Image by: Center For American Progress

NY Leads Nationwide Push For Paid Maternity Leave.

Maternity; New York did a great thing for women’s health by introducing paid leave for prenatal care, which can be an example for the rest of the U.S. Governor Kathy Hochul has recently built on the existing law by extending up to twenty hours of paid leave to pregnant women over the course of a year for them to attend their prenatal visits and appointments starting from January 1, 2025.


Reshma Saujani, the founder of Moms First, was hopeful that other states and governors with similar values would follow suit. While the federal Family and Medical Leave provides job protection for prenatal care, it is still unpaid. Washington, D.C., has tracked in New York’s footsteps by ratifying legislation that provides two weeks of paid leave for pregnancy-related medical assistance and twelve weeks after birth.

These laws match the medical research, which shows the significance of prenatal healthcare in creating positive outcomes for both mothers and babies. Harris M. Mufson, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, highlights the importance of using a separate leave design from sick leave for working mothers to strengthen them during this crucial period.

No federal precedent for paid prenatal leave exists

Yet, although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) assures entitled workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually, no guaranteed federal law requires private employers to offer paid leave, even for antenatal care. Reshma Saujani points out that paid leave, despite its bipartisan support, has often been ignored by legislators at the federal level due to other priorities.

Nevertheless, on the state level, the picture is still evolving. At least thirteen states and local government bodies have mandated private sector companies to give their employees paid family and medical leave. In most cases, these laws deal with leave for childbirth or taking care of a sick family member, with some states expanding the coverage to include prenatal care.

Currently, 14 states, including but not limited to California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D. C., and San Francisco, declared they would implement their paid family and medical leave programs in January. In New York, for example, the prenatal care rules have been mixed with the current paid leave laws. Besides, some states, such as Illinois, Maine, and Nevada, have already passed laws that allow paid leave for various reasons, not just sickness.

Image Source: Commonwealth Fund

States may emulate New York’s example.

States with strong employee protection laws, e.g., California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut, are the best options for authorizing paid leave for prenatal care, according to Kelly M. Cardin, an employment law expert at Ogletree Deakins. She thinks this trend could be spread to other states.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), signed by President Biden in December 2022 and scheduled to be effective from June 27, 2023, brings further hope to the advocates of paid prenatal benefits. The PWFA law states that employers should employ reasonable accommodations for the known limitations in pregnancy, childbirth, or other related conditions unless the accommodation is an undue hardship. It does not override the more protective state laws since over 30 states and cities already have laws requiring accommodations for pregnant workers.

Due to the federal government’s concentrated focus on assisting pregnant workers through the PWFA, Cardin presupposes that progressive states may as well boost their protections more. This corresponds with a broad trend in states trying to achieve equal employee benefits.


People also ask:

1. Does NY offer paid maternity leave?

Qualified workers can have up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for family members. The highest weekly benefit for 2024 is $1,151. 16. Your job is also secure when you are on leave.


2. Can New York be the first state to offer paid leave for antenatal care?

New York, a trailblazer in progressive labor policies, has become the first state in the country to implement a paid prenatal leave benefit for pregnant workers. This landmark amendment to Section 196-b of the New York Labor Law, also known as the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law, will take effect on January 1, 2025, setting a new standard for maternity benefits.


3. Is the US government fully providing maternity leave to all new mothers?

Until recently, paid family leave was not a common provision at the federal level in the US. However, a significant shift occurred in October 2020, when the majority of people became eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a new child.


4. Were paid maternity leaves introduced to us?

The United States maternity leave status to a startling level forward was depicted by the enactment of the Federal Government on February 5, 1993, through Public Law 103-3, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993.

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