Breastfeeding mothers to be exempt from jury duty in New York
Mothers across New York State are getting a break — from jury duty, at least. A new law will allow breastfeeding mothers an exemption for up to two years from responding to jury summonses.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation on Monday. The provision takes effect immediately — but it does come with some stipulations. In order to be provided the postponement, women will need to submit a note from a physician proving they are breastfeeding. Also, mothers who have previously postponed or excused their jury duty cannot use the provision.
“While jury service is a critically important civic duty, we also know new moms oftentimes juggle countless responsibilities and navigate enormous adjustments in the early stages of their child’s life,” Cuomo said in a press release.
Breastfed babies are less likely to get infections and to develop SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions, according to the city’s Health Department. Experts recommend that mothers breastfeed their infants until they are at least six months old.
A New York State labor law already requires employers to allow nursing mothers the time and place to express breast milk for up to three years after their baby’s birth.
The bill was passed in both houses of the state legislature unanimously. “Nursing mothers have extraordinary commitments and this new law will remove one extra source of stress for them,” said State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, chairperson of the Committee on Children and Families and one of the bill’s sponsors. “I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill so we can provide some real relief to breast feeding moms by allowing them to postpone jury duty.”