On March 18, 2020, New York enacted a law which would require employers to provide certain sick leave benefits to employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation issued by any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such an order because of COVID-19. The law does not provide benefits to individuals who are asymptomatic and have not been diagnosed who are able to work from home. The following are sick leave benefits that must be provided by employer size:

Employers with less than 10 employees and under $1 million in net income in prior tax year

Unpaid leave during the time of the quarantine or isolation order

Employers with less than 10 employees and $1 million or more in net income in prior tax year

5 days of paid leave and then unpaid leave during the remainder of the quarantine or isolation order

Employers with 11-99 employees

5 days of paid leave and then unpaid leave during the remainder of the quarantine or isolation order

Employers with 100 or more employees and public employers

14 days of paid leave

 

During the unpaid portions of the above leave, employees will also be eligible for paid family leave benefits and disability benefits. The law amends those laws to include the above quarantine or isolation times under the definitions of “family leave” and “disability” respectively.

The above leave is required to be provided without the loss of an employee’s accrued sick leave. The law also provides for reinstatement rights to the employees same position and at the same rate of pay after the leave. It also prohibits retaliation against employees for taking the leave.

Employees are not eligible for any paid leave under this law if the employee traveled to a country designated level two or three by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for personal business after being told of the CDC’s travel notice and of the limitations under the law regarding the paid sick leave prior to traveling.

The law also provides that if an employee must apply for unemployment due to a COVID-19 caused closure, the employee may immediately file for unemployment benefits without being subject to the waiting period.

Finally, the new law provides that if federal legislation is passed addressing some or all of these issues, the New York law is only meant to provide those benefits which are more generous than the federal law, if any.

State and local legislation providing paid leave to employees out of work for COVID-19 related reasons is changing by the day. Employers should continue to monitor state and local activity and put policies, even if temporary, in place that comply with any legislation passed in jurisdictions in which they operate.

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