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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

May 15, 2024

New York State Fiscal Year 2025 Budget: Implications for Employers Unpacked

After a series of delays (and a cyberattack), the New York State Fiscal Year 2025 budget was finally approved on April 20, 2024. This budget serves as the state’s blueprint for its financial allocations over the next year. However, despite its name, the budget is not simply limited to financial decisions; it is also often used as a vehicle to enact laws that don’t involve spending money. This newly approved budget includes the following significant changes that will impact employers of all sizes. Here are three key changes that businesses must be aware of.

Prenatal Leave for Pregnant Employees

New York State will soon lead the nation and require that employers provide 20 hours of prenatal leave for pregnant employees. Notably, this leave is in addition to the existing paid sick leave mandated by state or local law, which is either 40 or 56 hours depending on employer size.

The prenatal leave can be taken during pregnancy or for other pregnancy-related medical appointments, procedures, tests, and discussions with health care providers. During this leave, employees must receive their regular rate of pay.

Key Takeaway: Employers will soon be required to provide pregnant employees with 20 hours of paid prenatal leave each year, separate from existing paid sick leave mandates.

Effective Date: Pregnant employees will be eligible to take this leave beginning on January 1, 2025.

Require Paid Breaks for Breast Milk Expression in the Workplace

Employees who are nursing must now be paid when they take a break from work to express breast milk. Previously, the law required employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time to express breast milk for nursing, each time the employee had a reasonable need to do so, for up to three years following childbirth.

Now, the law mandates a paid break of up to 30 minutes to express breast milk. Additionally, employees can also use their existing paid break time or meal time for any additional time needed beyond the 30-minute paid break to express breast milk. This new rule also practically supersedes New York City’s existing regulation, which requires employees to be paid only if they were not completely relieved of all work duties while pumping and limits the pumping time to a reasonable duration.

Key Takeaway: Lactation breaks must now be paid, and eligible employees are entitled to a paid break of up to 30 minutes each time they have a reasonable need to express breast milk, for up to three years after giving birth.

Effective Date: Paid lactation breaks go into effect on June 19, 2024.

Sunset the State’s COVID-19 Sick Leave Law

Say goodbye to the final COVD-19 era legislation—COVID-19 sick pay. The budget included specific legislation that provides an expiration date for COVID-19 sick leave requirements to expire on July 31, 2024. 

Final COVID-19 Reminder: Although it appears that we can finally say goodbye to COVID-19, please note that the NY HERO Act remains in effect. The NY HERO Act is a law enacted to protect workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which mandated workplace health and safety protections against airborne infectious diseases. These plans are activated when the state declares the existence of an airborne disease. COVID-19’s designation under the NY HERO Act expired on March 17, 2022, and as such, businesses no longer need to implement these plans. However, they must remain on hand and ready to be implemented should the government declare another airborne infectious disease that merits the NY HERO Act’s implementation.

The changes in New York State’s Fiscal Year 2025 state budget will bring significant changes to the way employers across the state must conduct business. These changes highlight the importance for businesses to stay informed and compliant with state regulations.

To help understand how these changes may impact your business, Barclay Damon offers comprehensive services in labor and employment law, as well as other practice areas, and can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Lee Jacobs, partner, at ljacobs@barclaydamon.com; Shawn Chowdhury, associate, at schowdhury@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment or Employee Benefits Practice Areas or Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team.
 

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