NY now requires equal access to diaper changing stations at men and women’s public restrooms
State also insists on lactation rooms in state buildings that are open to public
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the passage of legislation in the FY 2019 Budget to ensure equal access to diaper changing stations and to provide lactation rooms in state buildings that are open to public. The policy is part of the Governor’s 2018 Women’s Agenda.
“New York proudly leads the nation in fighting for the rights of working parents, and by ensuring access to these amenities, we will help ensure all New Yorkers can give their children the care they need at this critical stage of their lives,” Governor Cuomo said. “This legislation supports our efforts to make New York the nation’s model for working parents, and helps make it a stronger, fairer and more equal state for all.”
Building on the Governor’s record of accomplishments to support new parents and the health of infants, including the strongest paid family leave policy in the nation, the FY1 2019 Budget changes New York’s Uniform Building Code to require all new or substantially renovated buildings with publicly accessible restrooms to provide safe and compliant changing tables.
This policy applies to businesses, including restaurants, stores and movie theaters, as well as State facilities, like parks and DMV offices. Changing tables will be available to both men and women, and there must be at least one changing table accessible to both genders per publicly-accessible floor. Building owners or managers must post clear signs directing the public to the location of the nearest available changing table.
“As a mother, I’ll never forget the stress of being out in public and in desperate need of a changing area for my children when they were babies,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This is an area where State government can play a role in alleviating some of the everyday burdens faced by parents. Requiring diaper changing tables in public restrooms will help mothers and fathers ensure the health and safety of their children. We are continuing to push for changes for women and all New Yorkers to have access to essential childcare and healthcare needs in the State.”
In addition, the FY 2019 budget requires certain state buildings that are open to the public to have lactation rooms, and directs the Department of State to study the feasibility of installing adult changing facilities in public buildings, to ensure that New Yorkers are supported in providing care to family and loved ones.
Until now, State law has not required publicly accessible restrooms to be equipped with changing tables. This means that parents and caregivers of young children often struggle to find a safe, sanitary place to change their child’s diaper. In addition, when changing tables are available, they are disproportionately available in only women’s restrooms. Many parents and caregivers have been forced to change a diaper in public, to use unsafe, unsanitary bathroom sinks—or even to delay changing a diaper altogether. Research published in the medical journal Pediatrics showed that staying in soiled diapers increases a child’s risk for painful skin rashes, scarring and infections, with potentials serious side effects such as kidney damage, poor growth and struggles developmentally and socially.