New York Paid Leave And Job Protection For COVID-19 Quarantine Or Isolation Order

On March 18, 2020, New York State adopted new legislation providing employees subject to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine or isolation order with immediate sick leave, disability benefits and paid family leave. These benefits apply to employees who cannot work (including an inability to work remotely).

Outlined below are key provisions for employers to consider while assessing whether the new legislation applies to their company.

Does the law only apply to large companies?

No, the law applies to all employers regardless of size.

How much paid leave are companies obligated to provide?

  • If a company employs 10 or fewer employees and the company's net income was less than $1 million in the previous tax year: unpaid job-protected sick leave until the order is lifted. Employees shall be eligible for paid family leave and benefits due to disability during this time.
  • If a company employs 10 or fewer employees and the company's net income was greater than $1 million in the previous tax year: five days of paid sick leave, plus unpaid job-protected leave until the order is lifted. After such five days of paid sick leave, employees shall be eligible for paid family leave benefits and benefits due to disability.
  • If a company employs 11-99 employees: five days of paid sick leave, plus unpaid job-protected leave until the order is lifted. After such five days of paid sick leave, employees shall be eligible for paid family leave and benefits due to disability.
  • If a company employs 100+ employees: fourteen days of paid sick leave. After such fourteen days of paid sick leave, employees shall be eligible for paid family leave and benefits due to disability.

*The number of employees counted as of January 1, 2020.

Are there employees who are not eligible for these benefits?

An employee shall not receive paid sick leave benefits or any other paid benefits provided by this law if the employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine because the employee has returned to the United States after traveling to a country for which the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has issued a level two or three travel health notice and the travel to that country was not taken as part of the employee's employment or at the direction of the company, and if the employee was provided notice of the travel health notice and such ineligibility under this new law.

Such employee shall be eligible to use other accrued leave provided by the company, such as general paid sick leave, vacation or general paid time off (PTO), or to the extent the employee does not have accrued leave available, unpaid sick leave shall be provided for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation.

Can companies require employees to use existing PTO?

No, the new law's provisions are in addition to the employer's existing PTO policies.

When does the law take effect?

The law was effective immediately as of March 18, 2020.

How long will the law be in effect?

The law will remain in effect until the termination of any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.

How do disability benefits and New York Paid Family Leave come into play with this law?

All employees are eligible for job-protected leave under this law. After the paid sick leave portion is exhausted, if any, employees are eligible to receive disability benefits and paid family leave benefits for the same reasons as stated above. Employees are also eligible to receive paid family leave benefits to care for a minor child who is out of school or childcare due to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.

Does this law or the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act take precedent?

Where another law (such as the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides paid sick leave and FMLA protections due to COVID-19) provides benefits to employees that are equal to or more generous than the New York State law, the more generous law shall prevail. Where another law exists that provides lesser benefits to employees, the New York State law shall make up the difference.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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