New Yorkers, Update Your Employment Handbooks – New Family Leave Policies

New Yorkers, Update Your Employment Handbooks – New Family Leave Policies

In 2016, New York enacted Paid Family Leave policies, providing eligible employees job-protected, paid time off to: bond with a newborn, adopted, or fostered child; care for a family member with a serious health condition; or assist loved ones when a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is deployed abroad on active military service.[i] On April 22, 2024, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation expanding New York’s Paid Family Leave include prenatal benefits. The prenatal person leave benefits are part of New York’s paid sick leave program and is separate from New York State’s Paid Family Leave.

Most notably, under the new Paid Prenatal Personal Leave benefits, Section 196-B of the New York Labor Law was amended to include the following benefits to employees effective January 1, 2025:[ii]

  • Prenatal Leave: Eligible employees are entitled to up to 20 hours of paid prenatal leave during “any fifty-two week calendar period.”[iii] Prenatal leave can be used for any qualified purposed in one hour increments.
  • Qualifying Uses: “Paid prenatal personal leave shall mean 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 provided related to the pregnancy.”[iv]
  • Pay: “Benefits for paid prenatal leave shall be paid in hourly installments. Employees shall receive compensation at the employee’s regular rate of pay, or the applicable minimum wage established pursuant to section sex hundred fifty-two of this chapter, whichever is greater.”[v]
  • Leftover Leave Time: Employers are not required to pay an employee for unused paid prenatal leave upon such “employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.”[vi]

 

The law was also amended to include provisions preventing employers from reducing or revoking paid family leave or prenatal leave benefits based on the number of hours actually worked by an employee during the calendar year.[vii] Effective January 1, 2025, employers are not allowed to require the disclosure of “confidential information relating to a mental or physical health condition of either the employee or the employee’s family member, or information related to absence from work due to domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, as a condition of providing sick and prenatal leave.”[viii] An employee who returns from paid sick or prenatal leave must be restored to the position of employment held prior to taking leave.[ix]

 

Takeaway

Prior to the effective date of the new provisions, employers should consider updating their employee handbooks and leave policies to reflect the new prenatal benefits available to all employees. Further, managers and HR staff should be properly trained on the law’s requirements. Lastly, companies will want to ensure their payroll system or company is properly set-up and configured to administer prenatal leave, including any and all requests made by an eligible employee. Failure to afford an employee with these benefits could result in litigation. With the rise of Nuclear Verdicts® around the country, the impact of any such litigation could have significant and long-last effects on a company.

 

 

 

Keep Reading

More by this author

Sources


[i] “New York State Paid Family Leave,” New York State, https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/

[ii] LAB CHAPTER 31, ARTICLE 6, https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/LAB/196-B.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Id.