Client Alert #1
New York State Laws Re:
NYS Law Provides Sick Leave and Benefits
During Quarantine or Isolation
Due to COVID-19
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed a
that will immediately provide all employees in New York State with job-protected leave and benefits during precautionary or mandatory quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.
Under the new law, any employee in New York State who is subject to mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the State of New York, the Department of Health, the local board of health or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19, will be provided with job-protected leave and other benefits during such quarantine or isolation.
The size of the employer determines whether the employee's job-protected leave is paid or unpaid, as follows:
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million or less must provide eligible employees with unpaid job-protected sick leave during quarantine or isolation;
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million must provide eligible employees with at least five (5) days of paid job-protected sick leave and unpaid job-protected sick leave during the remainder of the quarantine or isolation;
- Employers with between 11 and 99 employees must provide eligible employees with at least five (5) days of paid job-protected sick leave and unpaid job-protected sick leave during the remainder of the quarantine or isolation; and
- Employers with 100 or more employees, and public employers, must provide eligible employees with at least fourteen (14) days of paid job-protected sick leave during the quarantine or isolation.
After any period of paid leave, employees may be eligible for partial wage replacement under the NYS Paid Family Leave and disability insurance programs during the remainder of their quarantine or isolation. The new law expands the definition of "disability" to include the inability to work due to quarantine or isolation, and expands the definition of "family leave" to include leave taken due to quarantine or isolation of the employee or the employee's minor dependent child.
Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees who take leave under this new law.
The new law also waives the one-week waiting period for employees who apply for unemployment insurance benefits if their employer closes for a reason related to COVID-19.
The benefits of this new law are not available to employees who are (i) under quarantine or isolation due to travel that is not work-related; or (ii) physically able to work, whether by remote access or other means, during quarantine or isolation.
The new law also provides that it will be pre-empted by any federal law or regulation that provides sick leave and/or employee benefits for reasons related to COVID-19, unless this law would have provided greater benefits to employees.
NYC and Westchester County employers should already have a paid sick leave policy in place in accordance with the City's
Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law
and the County's
Earned Sick Leave Law
. However, the new NYS law is more generous than those laws and will require an immediate change in those employers' policies and procedures.
Whether you are an employer or employee, for questions or concerns about the new NYS law providing sick leave and benefits during quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, you may contact Chaim Book at
, Sheryl Galler at
, or Jennifer Kim at
NYS Employers Must Implement
and Reduce In-Office Personnel by 50%
signed on March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed all employers in New York State providing non-essential services to (i) implement work-from-home or telecommuting procedures, to the maximum extent possible, and (ii) reduce the in-person workforce at any location by 50% by no later than 8 p.m. on Friday, March 20.
he order excludes essential businesses, which are defined as:
- essential health care operations including research and laboratory services;
- essential infrastructure including utilities, telecommunication, airports and transportation infrastructure;
- essential manufacturing, including food processing and pharmaceuticals;
- essential retail including grocery stores and pharmacies;
- essential services including trash collection, mail, and shipping services;
- news media;
- banks and related financial institutions;
- providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations;
- vendors of essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses;
- vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public; and
- any other business deemed essential after requesting an opinion from the Empire State Development Corporation.
For employers who have not yet implemented work-from-home policies or procedures, here are some suggestions:
- Determine which employees may be needed during regular business hours and require them to be available during those hours;
- Require all employees, and particularly non-exempt employees, to keep track of hours they work and submit accurate timekeeping records;
- Set up remote access, which may include VPN (Virtual Private Network) services, purchase any licenses necessary for employees' remote access and arrange for any software capabilities needed for employees to perform work specific to the business;
- Set up systems and policies to protect confidential data and internet security and confirm that employees have any required protections against malware, phishing, and other threats. Employees should also be told or trained to maintain confidentiality as if they were in the office (i.e., close screens or cover documents that have confidential company or client information).