New York becomes first state to offer paid prenatal personal leave

Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

A new mandate in New York requires employers to grant employees 20 hours of paid “prenatal personal leave” within any 52-week period to attend prenatal medical appointments during or related to pregnancy, starting January 1, 2025, as reported by Crowell.


Through this mandate, New York has become the first state in the nation to enforce paid time off exclusively designated for pregnant workers. 


The provision is now incorporated into New York’s fiscal 2025 budget after being signed as an amendment to Sections 196-b.2 and 4-a of the New York Labor Law, signed by the governor and approved by the state legislature.


While New York is the first state to enforce such a leave policy, this move aligns with broader trends, as seen in recent federal US labor laws like the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act, which aim to safeguard the rights of pregnant and nursing employees.


This amendment defines “paid prenatal personal leave” as time off taken by an employee during or for pregnancy-related health care services, including exams, procedures, monitoring, testing, and discussions with a healthcare provider.


Scope of Policy:

  • The leave policy applies universally to all New York employers, irrespective of their size, and covers both full-time and part-time workers. 
  • Employees can take this leave in hourly increments and must be compensated at their standard rate of pay or the prevailing minimum wage set by New York law, whichever is higher. 
  • This time off is an additional benefit beyond what’s required by the New York Paid Sick Leave Law (40 or 56 hours, contingent on the employer’s size) but adheres to the same rules that apply, meaning employers cannot demand the disclosure of confidential health information or retaliate against employees for taking this leave.
  • The legislation leaves certain aspects of paid prenatal personal leave undefined, such as documentation and notice requirements for employees, carry-over policies from year to year, coordination with other forms of paid time off, and whether employees can use the full 20 hours of leave immediately upon being hired. 
  • It’s anticipated that the New York Department of Labor will issue regulations or FAQs to clarify these and other questions in the near future.


Implications for Employers:

  • New York employers are not obligated to pay out unused prenatal personal leave when an employee leaves their job.
  • Employers are advised to review and revise their leave policies accordingly. 
  • Employers should ensure that HR and benefits team members are informed about this legal amendment and the introduction of this new leave entitlement.

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New York Labor Laws

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New York Salaried Employees Laws

Compliance Watch: Penalties for Breaking New York Labor Laws

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