Could New York's paid prenatal leave proposal start a trend?

01/17/2024

What employers need to know

In her 2024 State of the State proposal, New York Governor Kathy Hochul introduced the first-in-the-nation statewide paid prenatal leave. The proposal would expand the New York Paid Family Leave (NY PFL) provisions to include 40 hours of paid leave to attend prenatal medical appointments.

Currently, under NY PFL, short-term disability benefits are not available until four weeks before the child's birth after a seven-day waiting period. Adding prenatal care as a separate qualifying event under NY PFL would change that.

The reason behind the proposed expansion is the increase in infant mortality rates in New York. These rates are monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reflect a growing issue in the country. Governor Hochul also indicated that the U.S. has double the rate of peer countries in terms of both infant mortality and maternal mortality.

The proposal has yet to be reviewed by New York's Legislature, so employers don't have to start changing their leave policies yet.

The proposal will likely be open to debate or changes before becoming law. Some New York representatives refer to the state's financial limits, for example. Adding more leave for prenatal care visits could result in potential cuts to other parts of the existing NY PFL program.

If successful, such a program could be the start of a trend that other states could follow.

Key to Remember: New York officials want to expand the state's paid family leave program to include 40 hours of paid leave for prenatal care appointments, which would be a first of its kind in the U.S.

This article was written by Darlene M. Clabault, SHRM-CP, PHR, CLMS, of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. The content of these news items, in whole or in part, MAY NOT be copied into any other uses without consulting the originator of the content.

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