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COVID – 19 | NYS PAID AND UNPAID SICK LEAVE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

A man writing on an important documentNYS Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Wednesday, March 18, that guarantees paid and unpaid leave for New Yorkers under mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to COVID-19.

This legislation is very limited in terms of who it covers. It only applies to employees under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. The order must come from a government entity authorized to give such an order, like the department of health for example. A simple doctor’s note will not suffice, nor will an employee’s voluntary decision to quarantine or isolate. Further, even if an employee is under such an order, this law does not apply if that employee has no symptoms and can work from home. This law also does not apply to employees who voluntarily traveled (not for work) to CDC level 2 or 3 areas, and knew of this disqualification.

If an employee is eligible under this law, they will receive the following benefits based on their employer’s size and net income:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020
    • Employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave until their order is lifted
    • Employees are eligible for disability benefits
    • Employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits
  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 and a net income greater than $1 million
    • Employees are entitled to 5 days of paid sick leave
    • After the 5 days of paid sick leave:
      • Employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave until their order is lifted
      • Employees are eligible for disability benefits
      • Employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits
  • Employers with between 11 and 99 employees
    • Employees are entitled to 5 days of paid sick leave
    • After the 5 days of paid sick leave:
      • Employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave until their order is lifted
      • Employees are eligible for disability benefits
      • Employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits
  • Employers with 100 or more employees
    • Employees are entitled to 14 days of paid sick leave
    • After the 14 days of paid sick leave:
      • Employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave until their order is lifted
      • Employees are eligible for disability benefits
      • Employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits

Other important notes:

  • The paid sick leave granted to employees is paid for by the employer.
  • Under normal circumstances, Paid Family Leave does not cover leave due to the employee’s own medical conditions. But for the purposes of this law, “family leave” means “any leave taken by an employee from work when the employee is subject” to a quarantine or isolation order, or to care for a child of an employee subject to such an order.
  • Disability benefits and Paid Family Leave benefits can be paid to an employee concurrently beginning on the first full day of an unpaid period.
  • The paid and unpaid sick leave granted to employees under this legislation shall not affect an employee’s already accrued sick leave.
  • At this time, it is unclear whether an employee must have worked for the employer for 26 weeks in order to be eligible for Paid Family Leave. The law also directs the NYS Department of Labor to issue emergency regulations that will hopefully clarify this point.
  • The disability and Paid Family Leave benefits will be offset by and federal benefits.

Due to the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, this information is subject to further interpretation and clarification.

For more information, please visit: https://www.governor.ny.gov/programs/paid-sick-leave-covid-19-impacted-new-yorkers.

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