Effective In 2024 And 2025: NY Employers Must Provide Paid Lactation Breaks & Paid Prenatal Leave, End Of COVID-19 Emergency Leave

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On the heels of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issuing a final regulation on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, New York State expanded the rights and responsibilities under New York Labor Law...
United States Employment and HR
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On the heels of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issuing a final regulation on the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, New York State expanded the rights and responsibilities under New York Labor Law § 196-b related to pregnancy and § 206-c related to lactation. On April 19, 2024, New York's Governor Hochul signed Assembly Bill A8806C, which enacts pieces of legislation related to New York's 2024-2025 budget. Importantly, it provides New York employees with paid lactation breaks and paid prenatal leave. The new law also places a sunset date on the COVID-19 Emergency Leave.

Paid Lactation Breaks

Since 2007, New York employers have been required to provide either reasonable unpaid break time or allow employees to use paid rest periods or meal breaks to express milk for up to three years following the birth of a child under the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act.

Effective June 19, 2024, New York employers1 must provide a 30-minute paid break to employees "each time such employee has a reasonable need to express breast milk." Labor Law § 206-c(1). In the event the employee needs more than 30 minutes for the session, the employee must be permitted to use existing paid break time or meal time. In practice, employees will be entitled to multiple paid lactation breaks each day.

As a reminder, in 2023, New York required employers to draft and distribute a lactation policy to all employees and further specified that lactation spaces must meet certain criteria. All New York employers should update their policies to mirror the new statutory requirements.

Paid Prenatal Leave

Effective January 1, 2025, New York employers are required to provide employees with 20 hours of paid prenatal leave during any 52-week calendar period. Labor Law § 196-b (4-a). The paid prenatal leave is in addition to the existing sick leave and safe leave. The paid prenatal leave is the first law requiring a separate and distinct paid leave for prenatal care paid for by employers.2

The paid prenatal leave can be used for "health care services received by an employee during their pregnancy or related to such pregnancy, including physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions with a health care provider related to the pregnancy." Labor Law §196-b (4-a).

The terminology "their pregnancy" signals that this law is not intended to cover the significant other of the pregnant person, adoptive parents, or parents working with a surrogate. The amendment does not specify that an employee becomes eligible for the paid prenatal leave after working for the employer for a certain period of time. Therefore, employees are eligible for paid prenatal leave as soon as they are hired.

The paid prenatal leave may be used in hourly increments and is paid in hourly installments (as compared to employers being able to set the existing New York Sick and Safety Leave at a minimum of four-hour increments). Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who utilize the paid prenatal leave. Following the return to work from the paid prenatal leave, employers are required to restore the employee to their position with the same pay, terms and conditions of their employment. At the end of the employment relationship, employers are not required to pay the employee for unused paid prenatal leave.

The amendment does not address whether there are any specific record-keeping requirements or whether there are notice and poster requirements.

COVID-19 Emergency Leave

New York State has required employers to provide a certain amount of paid or unpaid sick leave (depending on the employer's size and annual income) to employees subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Emergency Leave expires on July 31, 2025. Keep in mind that following the sunset date, employees experiencing COVID-19 may still obtain paid or unpaid time off in accordance with the New York Sick and Safety Leave Law.


In advance of the effective dates, New York employers should review their policies and procedures.


1. "Employer" includes any person, corporation, limited liability company, or association employing any individual in any occupation, industry, trade, business or service. The term "employer" shall not include a governmental agency. Labor Law § 190(3).

2. The District of Columbia has a two-week paid prenatal leave paid through the Office of Paid Family Leave. See DC Paid Family Leave, DOES District of Columbia, Department of Employment Services, https://dcpaidfamilyleave.dc.gov/prenatal-leave/ (last visited Apr. 30, 2024).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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