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New York is set to become the first state to require employers to provide 20 hours of additional paid time off for pregnant workers for pregnancy-related medical care without requiring workers to tap into their time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, saving that time for after the baby is born.

The policy, announced as part of the state’s executive budget for fiscal year 2025, will take effect Jan. 1 and will only apply to private-sector companies.

The benefit amount is lower than one proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in January, when she proposed 40 hours of additional paid time off for pregnant workers to cover when they attend prenatal medical appointments, tests or other necessary care. The leave can be taken in hourly increments.

“No one should ever have to fear seeking care because of the costs it will impose or time missed from work,” the governor stated

Hochul’s office previously noted that under existing state law, disability benefits for pregnancy wouldn’t kick in until four weeks before the child is born, and then only after a seven-day waiting period. 

The prenatal leave policy is part of the governor’s broader plan to address maternal and infant mortality rates in New York. 

Attorney Melissa Camire, a partner at Fisher Phillips, encouraged business owners in New York to consider updating their policies and procedures to align with the state’s requirements.

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