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Employment Law Updates You Need to Know about in Budget

April 26, 2024

Lawmakers recently approved the 2024-2025 New York State budget, revising a number of laws that employers must be mindful of to ensure compliance. Specifically, these changes include: (1) the implementation of prenatal leave for pregnant employees; (2) paid nursing breaks; and (3) the expiration of COVID-19 paid sick leave. 

20 Hours of Paid Prenatal Leave for Pregnant Employees

In January 2024, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed implementing paid prenatal leave for pregnant employees. With passage of the budget on April 20, 2024, New York became the first state to require that employers provide such leave. 

Beginning January 1, 2025, New York employers must provide pregnant employees with 20 hours of paid prenatal leave for each calendar year. Employees may take this leave during pregnancy for related medical appointments, procedures, tests and discussions with healthcare providers. Employees must receive their regular rate of pay when using this leave. 

Similar to when they take paid sick leave under New York law, salaried/exempt employees will be paid at their normal rate of pay while out on prenatal leave. 

If an hourly/non-exempt employee’s hourly cash wage rate is less than the applicable minimum wage (i.e., if the employer takes a tip credit), then the employer must pay the employee at least the applicable minimum wage ($16.00 per hour in NYC, Long Island, and Westchester). Employers are not required to pay employees for lost tips or gratuities while on leave, however, employers may not take a tip credit for leave time. 

If an hourly/non-exempt employee’s hourly cash wage rate is at least the applicable minimum wage rate, the employee will receive their regular rate while out on this leave (e.g., if an employee’s regular rate of pay is $20 per hour, they must be paid $20 for each hour they take leave). 

Significantly, this leave is separate and apart from other paid sick leave mandated by New York law. 

Employers may not discriminate against employees who take prenatal leave. Failure to provide pregnant employees with prenatal leave could subject employers to significant damages, including costly lawsuits. 

Paid 30-Minute Nursing Breaks

As detailed in our prior alert, federal and New York law currently requires private sector employers to provide unpaid break times to allow nursing employees to express breast milk each day. Specifically, employees are permitted to take daily unpaid breaks, at least once every three hours or as otherwise reasonably requested for this purpose. The budget expands on this requirement. 

As of June 19, 2024, nursing mothers will have the right to 30 minutes of paid break time each workday to express breast milk. At this time, it is unclear as to whether this paid break time may be broken up into multiple increments. This paid break is in addition to other paid and unpaid break time. 

With respect to an employee’s rate of pay for this break, it is the same as the paid prenatal leave. 

Employers may not discriminate against employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace. Failure to provide employees with paid nursing breaks could subject employers to significant damages, including costly lawsuits. 

Expiration of COVID-19 Sick Leave

New York State’s Paid Sick Leave law requires employers to provide employees with paid time off when employees are subject to a mandatory quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19 (the amount of time off depends on the amount of people employed by the employer). According to the budget, this leave will expire on July 31, 2025. Thus, after July 31, 2025, employers will no longer be required to pay employees for this time off due to these COVID-19 related absences. Until then, employers must provide paid leave to those employees who are subject to mandatory quarantine or isolation orders regardless of the financial and other impact this may have in the workplace. 

Next Steps

Each of the updates detailed above will impact how New York employers should manage their businesses. The budget should prompt employers to review and, when necessary, update their existing policies and procedures. 

For more information, contact Carolyn Richmond at, Glenn Grindlinger at, Devin S. Cohen at or another member of the firm's Labor & Employment Department. 

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