New York mandates a new employee benefit: Paid leave for expectant parents

The state's nearly $400 billion budget also obliges restaurants and other employers to provide paid half-hour breaks for nursing mothers.
Expectant parents in New York state will now get an additional 20 hours of paid leave. | Photo: Shutterstock

New York has become the first state in the union to mandate a new benefit from restaurateurs and other employers: Paid prenatal leave.

Included in the state’s now-approved budget is a requirement that employers in the state provide expectant parents with up to 20 hours of paid leave, starting Jan. 1. The time is intended to be used for such care-related pregnancy matters as doctor visits, routine tests and any medical procedures.

The state has also broken new ground with a change in the state’s requirements for employers of nursing mothers. Starting June 18, restaurants and other businesses will be required to provide up to 30 minutes of paid break time to express milk for a child. The benefit can be used by parents of children of up to 3 years old if they’re still being nourished with the mother’s breastmilk.

If the nursing break runs longer than 30 minutes, the employee can use other mandated paid breaks for the extra time.

Simultaneous with the addition of those benefits, the state decided to curb one. Starting July 31, 2025, employees will no longer be entitled to up to 14 days of paid leave to quarantine themselves after contracting COVID-19.

The new benefits for parents are in addition to the paid-leave benefits already on the books within the Empire State. Employers of at least five but fewer than 100 workers are required to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, as is any company with at least $1 million in annual net profits. Concerns with larger payrolls are obliged to provide 56 hours.

Businesses with fewer than five employees are required to provide 40 hours of unpaid leave.

The new mandates were tucked into the state’s budget bill for fiscal 2025, a hodgepodge of initiatives that range from funding a crackdown on illegal marijuana retailers to planting 25 million trees.

Also of pertinence to businesses are a hold on raising the state’s commercial and personal income taxes and the allocation of funds to crack down on shoplifting and bolster the security of small businesses.

The budget sets spending for the state for the fiscal year beginning July 1 at $236.8 billion, with at least an equal amount to be raised through taxes and other revenue sources. Officials say the fiscal plan should leave the state with a 15% surplus, or what they’re calling a rainy day fund.

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