Corporate & Securities Blog

In FY25 Budget, New York Becomes First State to Require Paid Prenatal Leave

As part of a significant investment to support New York state’s health care system, the $237 billion executive budget for fiscal year 2025 includes two key employment law changes relevant to maternal health.

Effective January 1, 2025, New York will mandate a separate sick leave bank for prenatal care for private-sector employers, making it the first state in the nation to create paid prenatal leave. Employees will receive an additional 20 hours of paid sick leave for prenatal care during a 52-week calendar period in addition to their existing sick leave. Paid prenatal leave includes health care services received by employees during pregnancy or related to such pregnancy, including physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions with a health care provider.

A second employment-related update to the budget takes effect 60 days following enactment on June 19, 2024. New York private and public employers must provide paid 30-minute breaks for breast milk expression “each time such employee has [a] reasonable need to express breast milk.” Currently, New York law provides for reasonable unpaid break time for this purpose, at least every three hours or as otherwise reasonably requested by the employee.

What Steps Should Employers Take Now?

  • Update Existing Policies and Posters. Review and update existing leave policies to incorporate the prenatal sick-leave mandate and requirement of paid lactation breaks. Keep an eye out for updated requirements on the New York State Department of Labor website regarding required posters and notices.
  • Educate Managers. As managers are often the first to receive a sick leave request from a pregnant employee or an accommodation request for lactation, remind them of internal procedures for responding to or escalating such requests. Determine whether additional educational resources are needed.
  • Consider Creative Accommodations. A variety of accommodations may be available to meet both employee and employer needs. Listen to the employee’s request and ask appropriate questions about possible accommodations.
  • Remember Existing Legal Protections. Obligations under the New York mandate for prenatal sick leave are only one piece of existing legal protections for pregnant employees and employees post-childbirth. For example, the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which took effect on June 27, 2023, requires a covered employer to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”
  • Seek Appropriate Human Resources or Legal Guidance. A network of federal, state and local laws may be implicated beyond these New York amendments. Employers are advised to consult with appropriate human resources or legal professionals before denying an accommodation request.

 

Meet the Author

Melissa L. Perry

Melissa Perry is an experienced litigator and strategic problem solver who represents corporate and institutional clients in all types of litigation, including employment and labor, educational issues, complex commercial, government investigations and appellate matters. Melissa specializes in employment and labor matters, representing clients in active litigation brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, and other federal and state employment and labor laws. She regularly advises local, regional, and national entities regarding hiring, compliance, internal investigations, harassment and discrimination prevention, employee departures, and theft of trade secrets and proprietary material.

mperry@stradley.com | 215.564.8049

 

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