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New York Leads Nation with Mandatory Paid Prenatal Leave for Employees

By June 27, 2024No Comments

New York has become the first state to mandate that employers offer paid prenatal leave to their employees.

This new requirement, an amendment to New York’s existing sick leave provisions within the state’s labor law, was passed as part of Governor Kathy Hochul’s fiscal year 2025 executive budget. The policy mandates that all employers in New York State provide workers with 20 hours of paid prenatal leave annually. This leave can be used for pregnancy-related services, including physical exams and medical procedures.

Organizations must provide prenatal leave in addition to New York’s existing paid “sick and safe” leave, which grants employees up to 40 or 56 hours of leave per year, depending on the employer’s size.

Employers in New York must adhere to this new requirement starting January 1, 2025.

Essential Information for HR Managers:

Once the law takes effect, covered employees will be entitled to 20 hours of paid prenatal leave immediately without needing to accrue it. An employee may take this leave in hourly increments and must be paid at the employee’s regular pay rate or the applicable minimum wage. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for taking prenatal leave and cannot request confidential health information to approve such leave.

The amendment does not specify details on procedures for requesting advance notice or documentation for prenatal leave, which may be clarified through regulations from New York’s labor commissioner, as noted by attorneys from the law firm Gibson Dunn.

There has been a growing movement among lawmakers to enact paid family leave laws. While no federal paid leave law exists, 13 states and the District of Columbia have implemented such laws.

Though most paid leave laws focus on time off for parents following the birth of a child, providing paid leave during pregnancy remains uncommon. However, California and Illinois require employers to offer leave for “reproductive loss,” such as miscarriage and stillbirth.

Governor Hochul has expressed optimism that this mandate will improve health outcomes for pregnant individuals in New York. “We hope what we’re doing in New York will raise the bar for the rest of the nation,” Hochul stated in January. “Consistent medical care in the early months makes all the difference.”

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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

(Images by MyAsiaVision and Victoriafly)

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