New York Employers: New York Has Become the First State to Mandate Paid Prenatal Leave, Among Other Major Updates

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On April 20, 2024, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law New York State’s Budget for fiscal year 2025. The new Budget includes a few key bills impacting New York employers and employees alike, as stated in depth below.

Paid Prenatal Leave

Effective January 1, 2025, New York employers will be required to provide up to 20 hours of paid leave in a 52-week period for pregnant employees. Specifically, pregnant employees may use the leave to attend prenatal appointments or obtain health care services during their pregnancy or related to such pregnancy, including physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions with a health care provider related to the pregnancy. The leave is to be taken in hourly increments and does not accrue as it must be made available for immediate use. The prenatal leave time will not impact or reduce other paid sick time available to an employee under the New York Paid Sick Leave Law.

Employers may not retaliate against employees who use prenatal leave. Following the return to work from the paid prenatal leave, employers are required to restore the employee to their position with the same pay, terms, and conditions of their employment.

The new mandate makes New York the first state to require paid leave for prenatal care.

Amendments to Paid Lactation Breaks

The enacted Budget amends the New York Labor Law to require employers to provide employees with 30 minutes of paid break time for breast milk expression for up to three years following child birth. If an employee needs over 30 minutes for the lactation break, the employer must authorize the employee to use their existing paid break time or paid meal time.

Notably, employers are currently required to provide their employees with reasonable unpaid break time for lactation. The new paid lactation break requirement goes into effect on June 19, 2024.  

As a reminder, New York employers are required to draft and distribute their lactation policy to employees and all office lactation spaces must meet certain criteria as per the New York Labor Law.

end to paid covid leave

Under the current New York State COVID-19 Emergency Leave Law, employees are provided paid COVID-19 leave when they are faced with a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Pursuant to the newly enacted Budget, the paid COVID-19 leave requirement will sunset as of July 31, 2025. After such date, employees shall use other qualifying sick/paid leave options provided by the employer for any COVID-19 related reasons.

Changes to Employer Policies Needed

In accordance with these new requirements, employers who employ workers in New York State are strongly encouraged to update their employee handbooks to reflect these latest changes and speak to counsel for advice in the rollout of the new employee protections/benefits. 

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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