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NYS Budget Implications for Employers 

On Saturday, April 20, New York’s (NY) Budget Bills for the 2024- 2025 Fiscal Year were enacted. The budget includes items that impact employers including changes to lactation breaks, the repeal of COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave, and the establishment of prenatal leave.  

Notably, the budget bill had included a proposal to NY’s short-term disability insurance program that would have gradually increased the amount of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) for the first 12 weeks of disability and then capped it at $280 weekly for the remainder of the 26 weeks. This measure was not included in the final budget, and the maximum amount for short-term disability benefits remains at $170 per week. 

Below are highlights of employment-related laws in the enacted budget.  

Paid Breaks for Lactation 

Effective June 19, 2024, public and private employers will be required to provide paid break time of up to 30 minutes to allow nursing employees to express milk each time they have a reasonable need to do so for up to three years following childbirth. Employers will also be required to permit employees to use existing paid break time or mealtime for any time that is needed over 30 minutes for this purpose. Current law requires only that an employer provide “reasonable unpaid break time” and allow the use of existing paid break or mealtime to express breast milk. 

Repeal of the State’s COVID-19 Sick Leave Law  

The requirement to provide sick leave when an employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, will expire and be considered repealed on July 31, 2025. This means that come July 31, 2025, employers will no longer be required to offer COVID-19 paid sick leave. 

Until this time, because current CDC isolation and quarantine guidance eliminates the five-day isolation requirement, employers may have questions about whether they are required to continue providing paid COVID-19 sick leave. Conservatively, employers should continue to provide leave to the extent the employee’s absence qualifies under the law and applicable guidance. When in doubt, it is recommended that employers consult with their employment and labor attorney for additional guidance. 

Paid Prenatal Leave 

Effective January 1, 2025, every private employer will be required to provide employees 20 hours of paid prenatal personal leave during any 52-week calendar period. This leave is in addition to other leave, such as paid sick and safe leave and paid family leave. 

Paid prenatal personal leave will cover leave taken for the 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.  

The leave may be taken in hourly increments and will be paid in hourly installments.  

While taking leave, employees must be paid for leave at their regular rate of pay, or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is greater

In certain cases, this leave may also run concurrently with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as covered employees may use FMLA for prenatal care as any period before childbirth where an employee is unable to work for medical reasons may be considered FMLA leave for a serious health condition.

Employers will not be required to pay an employee for unused leave upon termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment. 

The law also contains anti-retaliation protections and requires covered employers to restore an employee returning from paid prenatal leave to their job with the same pay and other terms and conditions of employment. 

Next Steps 

Many questions remain about the impact and implementation of these bills, and it is expected that the state will provide additional information and guidance for employers before any of the laws become effective. 

HR Works will continue to monitor these topics and provide updates as more information becomes available. 

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.