As we previously discussed, employers with fewer than 500 employees will no longer be legally required to provide employees with leaves of absence under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As of January 1, 2021, covered employers may choose to voluntarily provide such leave through March 31, 2021, and continue to take tax credits for doing so.
Although FFCRA leave may now be an employer elective, covered employers in states and local jurisdictions that have passed their own COVID-19 leave laws may remain obligated to provide their eligible employees with COVID-19 leave. We previously discussed an expansion of Washington D.C.’s COVID-19 leave obligations through March 31, 2021. To a similar end, New York employers also have continuing COVID-19 leave obligations into 2021, and perhaps beyond.
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed emergency legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of COVID-19. New York state’s law grants all New York employees COVID-related leave if an employee is personally subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, provided the employee is not able to work remotely while under quarantine. Unlike the FFCRA, New York state’s COVID-related leave law applies to New York employers of all sizes and has no expiration date. Rather, the leave benefit is specifically tied to COVID-19 and therefore, for as long as employees are subject to COVID-related quarantine or isolation orders, they remain eligible for the benefits provided under the New York law.
Employees who are directed by a healthcare provider to quarantine or isolate can obtain a quarantine or isolation order by contacting their local health department. Generally, the employee must notify the employer of his or her need for leave and submit his or her completed request for paid family leave forms to the employer’s insurance carrier. If an employee’s local health department is unable to provide the employee with an order, the employee may submit documentation from a licensed medical provider that has treated the employee, attesting that the employee qualifies for the order.
The duration of COVID-related leave available to eligible New York employees depends on the size of an employer’s workforce as of January 1, 2020 and its profitability.
New York state employers must therefore continue to provide COVID-related leave benefits to their employees, where the eligibility criteria are met, for as long as COVID-related quarantine orders are necessary. New York state issued guidance detailing answers to many frequently asked questions about the newly implemented COVID-19 quarantine leave law.