New York Requires Paid Lactation Breaks and Prenatal Leave (US)Scott Heldon May 15, 2024 at 6:00 pm Employment Law Worldview


New York’s recently approved 2024 – 2025 budget brings two major changes to the landscape of leave and accommodation laws that New York employers need to know about.

Paid Lactation Breaks

Effective June 19, 2024, all private sector employers (regardless of size) will be required to provide 30 minutes of paid break time to employees who need to express breast milk for a nursing child at work. Employees must also be allowed to use any existing paid break or meal time for breast milk expression in excess of 30 minutes. The law does not explicitly cap the number of paid lactation breaks employees are entitled to per day. Rather, the law provides that employers are required to provide paid lactation breaks “each time such employee has reasonable need to express breast milk,” suggesting that employees may be entitled to multiple paid lactation breaks per day.

Currently, New York employers are only required to provide “reasonable unpaid break time” for breast milk expression up to three years following childbirth. The new law retains this three-year limitation but significantly departs from existing law by requiring that such breaks be compensated. Note that 2023 amendments to New York’s lactation accommodation law required employers to distribute a lactation accommodation policy to all employees which meets or exceeds the model policy developed by the New York Department of Labor. Although that model policy has not yet been updated, employers are encouraged to update their policies to reflect changes to the law.

Paid Prenatal Leave

Beginning January 1, 2025, New York will become the first state in the country requiring employers to provide a separate bank of paid leave to pregnant employees for health care services received or related to their pregnancy. Once it goes into effect, all New York private sector employers (regardless of size) must provide 20 hours of paid leave during any 52-week period for pregnant employees to attend prenatal physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing or discussions with a health care provider related to an employee’s pregnancy.

Importantly, the 20 hours of paid prenatal leave is owed in addition to any paid leave already provided under the State’s paid sick leave law. Employees may take paid prenatal leave in increments of one hour and must be paid out in hourly installments at the employee’s regular rate or the applicable minimum wage under New York law, whichever is greater. As with New York’s paid sick leave law, unused paid prenatal leave does not need to be paid out upon separation from employment.

Further guidance addressing employer recordkeeping, notice and carryover obligations is expected prior to the paid prenatal leave’s effective date. As always, we will monitor and provide updates as developments unfold.

Employment Law Worldview

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