Employment Law Employee Benefits Workplace Policies Health and Wellness Human Resources Parental Leave Family and Work Balance Women’s Health Pregnancy and Parenting COVID-19 Regulations

May 17 | Written By Michelle Douglass

On April 20, 2024, Governor Kathy Hochul signed New York State’s Budget for fiscal year 2025, ushering in significant changes that promise to greatly benefit employees across the state. Among these changes are the introduction of paid prenatal leave, amendments to paid lactation breaks, and the phasing out of paid COVID-19 leave. Here’s what these new provisions mean for New York workers:

Paid Prenatal Leave: A Milestone for Expecting Parents

Starting January 1, 2025, pregnant employees in New York will have access to up to 20 hours of paid leave specifically for prenatal care. This groundbreaking law ensures that expectant parents can attend crucial prenatal appointments and healthcare services without the stress of losing income or fearing workplace repercussions.

Key aspects of this new benefit include:

  1. Immediate Access: The 20 hours of paid leave are available for immediate use, allowing for timely prenatal care without the need to accrue leave.
  2. Protected Leave: Employees can take this leave in hourly increments, ensuring flexibility for various medical appointments and discussions with healthcare providers.
  3. Job Security: Employers cannot retaliate against employees for using this leave. Upon returning, employees are guaranteed their previous position with the same pay and conditions.

This makes New York the first state to mandate paid prenatal leave, setting a national precedent and significantly supporting the health and well-being of expecting employees.

Enhanced Paid Lactation Breaks: Supporting New Mothers

Effective June 19, 2024, New York workers will benefit from amendments to the state’s labor laws regarding lactation breaks. The new law mandates 30 minutes of paid break time for breast milk expression for up to three years after childbirth. If more time is needed, employees can use their existing paid break or meal time.

Previously, lactation breaks were unpaid, so this change represents a significant step forward in supporting working mothers. Employers are also required to maintain lactation spaces that meet specific criteria and to distribute a comprehensive lactation policy to all employees.

The End of Paid COVID-19 Leave: Transitioning Back to Normal

The current COVID-19 Emergency Leave Law, which provides paid leave for employees under quarantine or isolation orders, will end on July 31, 2025. Post this date, employees will need to use other available sick or paid leave options for COVID-19-related absences. While this marks a shift away from pandemic-specific protections, it signals a move towards standardizing leave policies as the state continues to recover.

What Employees Need to Do

With these new changes, it’s crucial for New York employees to stay informed about their rights and benefits. Workers should:

  • Review Employer Policies: Ensure that the new leave benefits and protections are reflected in the employee handbook.
  • Communicate with HR: Discuss any concerns or questions with Human Resources to understand how these changes will be implemented in their workplace.
  • Plan Ahead: Expectant parents and new mothers should plan how to best utilize the new paid leave benefits to support their health and family needs.


The 2025 New York State Budget marks a significant advancement in employee rights and protections. With the introduction of paid prenatal leave, enhanced lactation breaks, and the end of paid COVID-19 leave, New York continues to lead in supporting the health and well-being of its workforce. These changes not only provide critical support for expecting and new mothers but also reinforce the state’s commitment to fostering a fair and supportive work environment for all employees.