New York has amended its sick leave law (Labor Law § 196-b) to provide paid prenatal personal leave to all employees. Effective January 1, 2025, all employers shall be required to provide their employees with 20 hours of paid prenatal personal leave per 52-week period. Prenatal personal leave is leave taken by an employee “during their pregnancy or related to such pregnancy,” including for physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions related to pregnancy with a health care provider. Prenatal personal leave may be taken in hourly increments.

Unlike overlapping leaves that run concurrently, prenatal personal leave is in addition to the paid or unpaid sick leave already required by New York law. Moreover, unlike sick leave currently required in New York, an employee qualifies for paid prenatal personal leave immediately upon hire.

Similar to current requirements applicable to sick leave, an employer shall be prohibited from requiring an employee to disclose confidential information relating to an absence qualifying for paid prenatal personal leave. Thus, the law precludes an employer from requiring that an employee provide a doctor’s note with substantive detail concerning leave.

The Department of Labor will likely issue guidance prior to the amendment’s effective date. The guidance may also address what constitutes a leave “related to . . . pregnancy,” which will likely be broader than traditional notions of prenatal care. In the meantime, employers should be prepared for this change and revise their handbooks and policies to reflect it.

Murtha Cullina’s Labor and Employment practice will monitor the Department of Labor’s release of guidance interpreting the amendment, as well as issues relating to the amendment’s implementation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Sal Gangemi at sgangemi@murthalaw.com or at 203.653.5436.