NEW YORK PROVIDES FOR ADDITIONAL PAID SICK LEAVE AND OTHER BENEFITS FOR EMPLOYEES UNDER COVID-19 QUARANTINE ORDER

By: Christian P. Jones

On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law a statewide Coronavirus response bill that immediately provides for additional paid sick leave, unpaid leave, as well as an expansion of the state’s paid family leave and disability benefits, to certain employees who are “subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation” related to COVID-19 as follows:

  1. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million in the previous tax year.

Required to provide unpaid, job-protected sick leave to each employee who is subject to such an order through the termination date of the order. Employees are also eligible for New York Paid Family Leave benefits and New York statutory disability during the quarantine period as discussed further below.

  1. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million dollars in the previous tax year,

Required to provide at least 5 days of job-protected paid sick leave, followed by unpaid leave thereafter until the termination of the quarantine order. After these five days of paid sick leave, employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits and New York statutory disability for the remainder of the quarantine period as discussed further below.

  1. Employers with 11-99 employees,

Required to provide at least 5 days of job-protected paid sick leave, followed by unpaid leave thereafter until the termination of the quarantine order. After these five days of paid sick leave, employees are eligible for Paid Family Leave benefits and New York statutory disability for the remainder of the quarantine period as discussed further below.

  1. Employers with 100 or more employees as of January 1, 2020 and public employers (regardless of size).

Required to provide at least 14 days of job-protected paid sick leave during the period of the order.

Employers are also required to restore employees to positions they held prior to their leave, with the same pay and other terms and conditions of employment and are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for taking such leave.

Employees who are asymptomatic or not diagnosed with any medical condition while in quarantine and who are physically capable of working while under the quarantine order, whether remotely or through other means, are not eligible to use the bank of sick leave made available under the bill. In addition, employees are not eligible for the paid sick leave or other statutory benefits described above if they are under a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order due to returning to the US after non-business travel to a country which the CDC has issued a level two or three Coronavirus-related travel advisory, so long as the employee is provided notice of the travel advisory and these limitations on benefits prior to such travel. Employees returning from such travel are able to use any accrued employer-provided leave during their quarantine period, or if no such leave is available to them, unpaid sick leave for the duration of the quarantine period.

Paid Family Leave and Disability Benefits During the Quarantine Period

Under the new law, New York Paid Family Leave benefits will be available to employees falling under groups 1, 2, and 3 above during an otherwise unpaid period of leave taken by an employee due to a covered mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, or to provide care for a minor dependent child of the employee who is subject to such an order (following the use of any paid sick leave benefits as set forth above).

Paid family leave benefits are available in the amount otherwise provided under the New York Paid Family Leave Law – presently, 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage, capped at $840.70 per week.

New York state disability benefits also will be concurrently available to employees falling under groups 1, 2 and 3 as of the first unpaid day of a period of leave where the employee is, as a result of a quarantine or isolation order, unable to perform the regular duties of their employment or the duties of any other employment which an employer may offer. Such weekly benefit would be the difference between the maximum weekly paid family leave benefit (discussed above) and the employee’s total average weekly wage, up to a maximum disability benefit of $2,043.92 per week.