The recently enacted New York budget for fiscal year 2024-25 includes provisions mandating paid employee prenatal leave and lactation break time. The provisions have different effective dates in 2024 and 2025.

Paid Prenatal Personal Leave

The budget amends the state sick leave law by adding what is being touted as a first-in-the-nation requirement that all employers provide their employees with 20 hours of paid prenatal personal leave per 52-week period, starting Jan. 1, 2025. The amendment does not require employees to accrue the new leave, nor does it impose a waiting period before employees may use the leave; the full 20 hours must be made available on Jan. 1, 2025.

Compensation for Prenatal Personal Leave

Employees on leave must be paid their regular rate of pay or minimum wage if the applicable minimum wage is higher; however, employers are not required to pay out unused prenatal personal leave when an employee separates from employment.

Permitted Uses of Prenatal Personal Leave

Prenatal personal leave may be taken for health care services received by an employee during their pregnancy or related to the pregnancy, including physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions with a health care provider related to the pregnancy. The new provisions do not require advance notification or documentation after the fact for using leave.

Interaction With Paid Sick Leave and FMLA Leave

Prenatal personal leave is in addition to the annual sick leave the law already mandates, which ranges from 40-56 hours and may be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer’s size and income. The amendment does not indicate that the leave runs concurrently with any federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave taken for prenatal care, meaning the state prenatal personal leave would be in addition to any FMLA leave taken for this purpose.

Paid Lactation Break Time

The budget also amends the portion of the state labor law that requires employers to provide break time for nursing mothers. Effective June 19, 2024, employers will have to give employees 30 minutes of paid break time to express breast milk for their nursing child. The employees must also be allowed to use existing paid break time or mealtime for lactation time in excess of 30 minutes. These requirements apply each time an employee has a reasonable need to express milk, for up to three years following a child’s birth.

Steps for Employers

New York employers should make sure to comply with the new paid lactation time mandate, which begins in June. They should also prepare for the start of paid prenatal personal leave in January 2025 and watch for agency regulations or guidance for the new leave entitlement. Managers and supervisors should be trained on these requirements, and employee policies and handbooks should be brought up to date.