On April 20, 2024, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law New York State’s Budget for fiscal year 2025.  The enacted Budget includes appropriation bills and other legislation required to carry out the budget for the coming fiscal year.  Among hundreds of new initiatives, the Budget includes several bills that impact New York employers and employees alike.

Paid Leave for Prenatal Appointments

The enacted Budget expands the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law to include additional paid time off for prenatal appointments.  Under the enacted proposal, New York is now the first state in the nation to require employers to provide up to 20 hours of paid leave during any 52-week period specifically for employees to attend prenatal appointments or obtain health care services during their pregnancy or related to such pregnancy, including physical examinations, medical procedures, monitoring and testing, and discussions with a health care provider related to the pregnancy.  The prenatal leave time does not accrue, but instead is available in a single bank and may be taken in hourly increments.  Prenatal leave time does not impact or reduce other paid sick time available to an employee under the New York Paid Sick Leave Law.  The prenatal leave provision takes effect on January 1, 2025.

Paid Lactation Breaks

The enacted Budget amends the New York Labor Law to require employers to provide employees with paid break time for breast milk expression.  Presently, employers are required only to provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use existing paid break or mealtime to express breast milk during the workday for up to three years following child birth.  Under the enacted proposal, employers will now be required to provide 30 minutes of paid break time for breast milk expression, and to permit the employee to use existing paid break time or meal time for lactation time needed in excess of thirty minutes.  This is an increase from the 20-minute paid break time provision initially included in the proposed budget.  The paid lactation break provision takes effect on June 19, 2024 (60 days following enactment).  

Sunset of COVID-19 Paid Leave

The enacted Budget will bring an end to the requirement that employers provide paid sick time—above and beyond what is required under the New York Paid Sick Leave Law—for employees who are under a mandatory order of quarantine or isolation because of COVID-19.  Under the enacted proposal, the COVID leave requirement will sunset on July 31, 2025 (extended by a year from the sunset date of July 31, 2024 initially included in the proposed budget).

Excluded Budget Proposals

Some of Governor Hochul’s original proposals did not make the cut in the final enacted Budget.  Employment-related exclusions included a significant overhaul of disability leave protections and an increase of maximum short term disability benefits, as well as the expansion of the New York Department of Labor’s enforcement power to aid in recovery methods for violations of certain wage payment provisions (discussed in more detail in our blog on the proposed budget).

Also noticeably missing was Governor Hochul’s proposal to eliminate liquidated damages for some pay frequency violations.  As reported in January, this proposal would have amended the New York Labor Law to confirm that liquidated damages are not available as a remedy for a violation of Labor Law § 191(1)(a)(1), which requires—absent a waiver from the Commission of Labor—that for-profit employes pay “manual workers” on a weekly basis.  The longstanding enforcement mechanism for this provision was a civil penalty, but a 2019 Appellate Division, First Department decision in Vega v. CM Assoc. Constr. Mgt LLC, held, for the first time in the 130-year history of New York’s weekly pay law, that a private right of action exists for a violation of Section 191(1) and permitted plaintiffs to seek liquidated damages equal to the amount of the late paid wages.  However, on January 17, 2024, the Appellate Division, Second Department held the opposite, concluding that no such private right remedy exists under the plain language and legislative history of the Labor Law.

Governor Hochul’s proposal to expressly exclude liquidated damages as a remedy was clearly designed to revise what the Governor perceived as an unintended judicial interpretation of the Labor Law in Vega, and in doing so would have resolved the split in appellate authority.  However now, unless new legislation addressing the issue is introduced prior to June, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will be set to resolve the appellate split.

What’s Next?

We will continue to report on any key developments involving the enacted Budget proposals as they move toward implementation, as well as the Court of Appeals consideration of Vega or any further legislative action regarding New York’s pay frequency provisions.  Employers are advised to review their existing policies and make any necessary changes to account for the enacted Budget provisions.  

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended…

Allan Bloom is the co-chair of Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department and a nationally recognized litigator and advisor who represents employers, business owners, and management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended many of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration, before government agencies, and in private negotiations. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved billions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise operating companies, management companies, fund sponsors, boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters including executive and key person transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated, arbitrated, and mediated disputes for more than 20 years.

A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE).

Allan has served as longtime pro bono counsel to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and The Public Theater, among other nonprofit organizations.  He is a past Vice Chair of Repair the World, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes volunteers and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, and a past recipient of the Lawyers Alliance Cornerstone Award for extraordinary contributions through pro bono legal services.

Allan is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns…

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns, with a focus on legal compliance, risk management and mitigation strategies, and workplace culture considerations.

Laura regularly counsels clients across numerous industries on a wide variety of employment matters involving recruitment and hiring, employee leave and reasonable accommodation issues, performance management, and termination of employment . She also advises on preparing, implementing and enforcing employment and separation agreements, employee handbooks and company policies, as well as provides training on topics including discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog and The Proskauer Brief podcast.

Photo of Chad Thornton Chad Thornton

Chad Thornton is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Counseling Group.