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New York State Department of Labor Spotlights Resources for Mothers

Photo: New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL)

This Mother’s Day, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) is reminding New Yorkers there are a variety of resources available to help mothers. As recently announced in Governor Hochul’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget, Sick Leave has now been expanded to cover prenatal care, a first-in-the-nation initiative, allowing pregnant people to seek the care they need without fear of taking time off work.

Studies show that prenatal health care is highly correlated with improved health outcomes for mothers and infants; and that pregnant mothers who have access to regular prenatal medical visits are less likely to die in childbirth, and their newborns are more likely to be healthy.

“We know that being a mother in the workforce isn’t easy,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Governor Hochul’s historic move to include prenatal care in sick leave builds on our progress to improve all workplaces for mothers. I encourage all mothers to use our free resources.”

Prenatal leave is part of a series of actions by Governor Hochul to support new parents and improve maternal health outcomes. Prior innovative actions include offering 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave benefits to more than 80 percent of the state workforce and extending postpartum coverage for up to a full year after the end of a pregnancy for Medicaid and Child Health Plus enrollees.

NYSDOL found in the 2023 Gender Wage Gap Report that mothers face significant challenges in the workplace that contribute to the wage gap. The report also found the pivot to remote learning and pandemic-driven closures of childcare facilities elevated the severe impact of childcare access, which has long been a major problem for working women.

With mothers bearing the brunt of care responsibilities, labor force participation for women in New York dropped from 59.3 percent to 58.9 percent from 2019 to 2021, while the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 4.2 percent to 8.2 percent. In 2021, over 405,000 women were unemployed, a significant increase from 207,000 in 2019. The report notes that even a temporary exit from the workforce can have significant long-term financial implications. Women also face salary challenges when they become mothers. It was found in the 2018 Gender Wage Gap Report that working moms were paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to working dads.

To ease the burden of childcare on parents, Governor Hochul increased the State's investment to an unprecedented $7.6 billion over four years to make the childcare system more accessible and affordable.

NYSDOL also has a variety of programs available that can help mothers re-enter the workforce or elevate their careers. NYSDOL’s Career Centers provide counseling to help workers find a fulfilling and family sustaining career. NYSDOL’s Salary Negotiation Guide is also available and can help workers and job seekers advocate for themselves in the workplace.

For those looking to change or advance their careers, apprenticeships are an opportunity to earn while they learn. NYSDOL has also partnered with Coursera to allow those who are unemployed to take courses for free.

New York State law protects workers’ rights to paid sick leave -- which can be used for parents to care for sick children – and nursing mothers’ rights to accommodations in the workplace.

For more information and NYSDOL’s recommended solutions to achieve pay equity, visit NYSDOL’s Gender Wage Gap Hub.


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