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April 22, 2020
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NYS Essential Businesses Required to Provide Face Coverings to Workers
     By Executive Order 202.16 and the Department of Health's guidance, as of April 15, 2020, essential businesses throughout New York State with employees present in the workplace are ordered to provide "face coverings" for their employees, including independent contractors, who work in direct contact with customers and the public. These face coverings must be provided to workers at the expense of the employer. According to the guidance to Governor Cuomo's Executive Order, "face coverings" include, but are not limited to, fabric masks, surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.
     In response to this new state mandate, employers should swiftly identify, with reason, which of their employees directly interact with the public in order to provide such workers with proper face coverings in the workplace. Employers should also review whether their respective businesses are still considered "essential businesses and entities" pursuant to the State's recently updated guidance (as of April 19, 2020) for determining whether or not a business is essential.


Improved Application for NYS Unemployment Insurance Benefits Promises Swifter Application Process for New Yorkers
     The application process to claim unemployment insurance benefits in New York State was streamlined on April 19, 2020 with the launch of the NYS Department of Labor's (DOL) new application.  Previously, in alignment with federal guidelines that have since been changed, the DOL required applicants to apply for regular unemployment insurance and be rejected before applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  Now, New York applicants can complete a single application form, which will automatically determine whether applicants qualify for and can get benefits through either traditional unemployment insurance or PUA.  PUA is available for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and other individuals not otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
     If you have lost your job or self-employment income, or have seen a significant decrease in your work schedule and pay per week (i.e., working less than four days per week and receiving less than $504 per week) due to COVID-19, you may file a claim for unemployment benefits.  As we reported in our previous newsletter, eligible claimants will be able to receive $600 per week through July 31, 2020 in addition to regular unemployment benefits

NJ Family Leave Act Further Expanded 
in Light of COVID-19

     On April 14, New Jersey expanded the State's Family Leave Act (NJFLA) to provide additional protection for employees affected by Covid-19. The NJFLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during any 24-month period. Under S2374, eligible employees now can use their NJFLA leave to care for a child whose school or childcare was ordered closed by a public official due to an epidemic of a communicable disease. Under the previous amendment to the NJFLA, P.L. 2020, c. 17, eligible employees may use NJFLA leave to care for a family member who is under quarantine, by order of a public health authority, or self-quarantine, by recommendation of a health care provider, due to illness caused by a communicable disease or exposure to a communicable disease.
     The new amendment, S2374, also specifies the certification that employers may require to support an employee's request for leave in connection with Covid-19, and the conditions under which employees may take such leave intermittently.
     The NJFLA applies to NJ employers who have 30 or more employees worldwide. Employees who wish to take leave under the NJFLA must have been employed by the employer for at least one year and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the last 12 months of employment.
     S2374 also makes technical amendments to New Jersey's P.L. 2020, c.17, which provides paid leave benefits to eligible employees affected by Covid-19. Eligible employees may claim New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance benefits for leave taken for the employee's in-home care or treatment when the employee is subject to quarantine or isolation due to exposure to a communicable disease such as Covid-19. Eligible employees may claim New Jersey Family Leave Insurance benefits for leave taken when the employee is required to provide in-home care or treatment of a family member who is subject to quarantine or isolation due to exposure to a communicable disease such as Covid-19.
     S2374 went into effect on April 14, 2020, and its provisions are retroactive to March 25, 2020.

     For any questions or concerns related to any of the topics addressed in this client alert, please contact a member of our COVID-19 team: Chaim Book at cbook@mb-llp.com, Sheryl Galler at sgaller@mb-llp.com, Lianne Forman at lforman@mb-llp.com, Christopher Neff at cneff@mb-llp.com, or Jennifer Kim at jkim@mb-llp.com.

Moskowitz & Book, LLP  | cbook@mb-llp.com  | http://mb-llp.com/

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