March 2020
Time Sensitive Information for Employers in New York State
In response to the unprecedented situation created by COVID019, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, New York State is requiring ALL employers in New York State to provide some kind of leave of absence to an employee who has been subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by New York State, the Department of Health, the local board of health or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID 19.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020, must provide unpaid sick leave until termination of the quarantine, together with any other benefits provided by law, including paid family leave and disability benefits. In addition, if such employer had a net income of greater than $1 million in the prior tax year, at least 5 of those days must be paid and the remaining period of quarantine may be unpaid.
Employers with 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020, must provide at
least 5 paid days of sick leave and the remainder of the quarantine period must be allowed to be off, but without pay. The employee is also eligible for paid family leave and disability benefits.
Employers with 99 or more employees as of January 1, 2020, must provide at least 14 days paid sick leave during the mandatory quarantine/isolation period.
Notably, these benefits are IN ADDITION, to any accrued sick leave already provided by an employer by policy. Employees must be allowed to use any accrued leave or sick leave for any portion of the quarantine for which the employee has not received compensation.
Upon conclusion of the quarantine period, the employee must be restored to the same position of employment, the employee had prior to leave with the same pay and benefits. Employers are prohibited from discharging or retaliating employees because the employee took leave under this act.
There are few exceptions to this law. The key exception is that the law is not applicable if the employee is only deemed asymptomatic and not yet diagnosed with any medical condition and is physically able to work while under a mandatory/precautionary order through remote access or other similar means.
The law also contains a limited exception for an employee who has traveled to a country the CDC has flagged as a Level 2 or 3 health notice and the employee's travel was not for business or at the direction of the employer and if the employee was provided notice of the travel health notice and the limitations of this section prior to such travel.
The law contains other provisions regarding the availability of New York State Family leave if an employee must provide care for a minor dependent child of the employee who is subject to a mandatory/precautionary quarantine. It waives the 7 day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits if an employer has closed for a reason related to COVID-19 or a mandatory order issued by a governmental entity to mandate closing.
Beginning January 1, 2021, all employers in New York State will be required to provide their employees with some level of sick leave based on the number of employees employed.
The range of required sick leave ranges from 40 hours of unpaid leave in a calendar for employers with 4 or fewer employees and who have a net income of less than $1,000,000 in the prior tax year to 56 hours of paid sick leave for employers with 100 or more employees
Under this law, sick leave may be taken for certain specific purposes, very similar to the law already in effect for New York City. An employer can provide the sick leave on a lump sum annual basis or by an accrual of not less than one hour for every 30 hours worked, with accruals beginning on the earlier of the effective date of the law (180 days after enactment) or the employee's date of hire.
Employees who use sick leave must be restored to the position the employee held with the same compensation and benefits the employee had prior to having taken any sick leave pursuant to this law. The law contains a separate proviso for employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Please contact Meredith Savitt if you have any questions or concerns.