In response to the coronavirus pandemic, New York State has passed a
new paid leave law
that requires all employers to provide sick leave to any employee that is subject to a “mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by New York State, a local health board, or any other governmental entity authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.” This
supplements the federal paid leave law that is scheduled to take effect on April 2, 2020.
Under the New York law, sick leave related to COVID-19 must be provided in addition to any other sick leave that the employee has available, i.e. employees cannot be required to use their existing sick leave first. In addition, whether this additional leave is paid or unpaid will vary based on the number of employees and/or net income of the employer:
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020), and net income of less than $1 million in the previous tax year, must provide unpaid sick leave until the termination of any quarantine or isolation.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020), and net income of more than $1 million in the previous tax year, must provide at least 5 days paid sick leave, then unpaid sick leave until the termination of any quarantine or isolation.
- Employers with 11 to 99 employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020) must provide at least 5 days paid sick leave, then unpaid sick leave until the termination of any quarantine or isolation.
- Employers with 100 or more employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020), as well as all public employers, must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave during any order of quarantine or isolation.
Notably, the law does not apply to employees who are able to work remotely while under quarantine, provided that the employee is asymptomatic and has not been diagnosed with any medical condition. The law also does not cover employees who choose to self-quarantine or need to stay home because a child's school has been closed (Note: staying home to care for a chid will be covered by the recently passed federal law starting April 1st). However, if an employee does take leave, the law requires that the employee be restored to the same position with the same pay and other terms and conditions of employment upon returning.
As to payment, New York State has clarified that the paid sick leave only covers calendar days immediately after the effective date of the quarantine order, not work days. As such, employees entitled to paid sick leave are only paid what they would have earned during those five calendar days, and are not compensated for days that they would not have worked.
Finally, the law includes provisions addressing the interaction between the new paid leave law and existing state laws on paid leave or disability, as well as a provision waiving the 7-day waiting period for applying for unemployment.