Employee Relief in the Empire State

The New York COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law

Written by Jeremy Mittman and Timothy Carter 

On March 18, 2020, the New York State Assembly passed and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law (the “Law” or the “New York Law”), providing emergency paid and/or unpaid sick leave to all eligible employees unable to work because of a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19. The Law, which became effective immediately, also expands New York’s Paid Family Leave Law (the “NYPFL”) and Disability Benefit Law to provide eligible employees with salary continuation during periods of otherwise unpaid leave. The Law also expands the right to benefits under the NYPFL where an employee needs leave to care for a minor child of the employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19.

Employer Size Benefits Provided
10 or fewer employees and a net income of less than or equal to $1 million Unpaid, job-protected leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order, as well as entitlement to New York Paid Family Leave benefits and disability benefits up to a maximum of $2,884.62 per week.
10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million At least five (5) days of paid sick leave, and after that, job-protected unpaid leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order. After the five (5) days of paid sick leave, entitlement to New York Paid Family Leave benefits and disability benefits up to a maximum of $2,884.62 per week.
Employers with 11 to 99 employees irrespective of net income At least five (5) days of paid sick leave, and after that, job-protected unpaid leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order. After the five (5) days of paid sick leave, entitlement to New York Paid Family Leave benefits and disability benefits up to a maximum of $2,884.62 per week.
Employers with 100 or more employees irrespective of income At least fourteen (14) days of paid sick leave (at the employee’s regular rate of pay), and after that, job-protected unpaid leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order.
All public employers At least fourteen (14) days of paid sick leave (at the employee’s regular rate of pay), and after that, job-protected unpaid leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order.

 

While some benefits provided to eligible employees vary with the size and net income of their employer (as shown above), certain provisions of the Law are universally applicable. For example, the job protection provisions are applicable to all New York State employers (of any size), and all eligible employees are entitled to (at minimum) unpaid sick leave until the conclusion of the applicable mandatory self-isolation or quarantine order.

Important Exceptions to the Law

There are, however, important exceptions to the Law. Employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order due to COVID-19 that have returned from personal travel to a geographic region designated by the Centers for Disease Control as a Level 2 or Level 3 travel risk, with notice of such risk, are not eligible for paid sick leave under the Law. However, such employees are still covered by the job protection provisions of the Law and may take unpaid leave for the duration of the mandatory or precautionary quarantine order.

Also, employees who have decided to quarantine or self-isolate not pursuant to an order issued by the State of New York, New York State Department of Health, local Board of Health or other government entity authorized to issue such order, are not eligible for sick leave or other statutory benefits under the Law. Asymptomatic employees or those physically able to work while under a mandatory or precautionary quarantine order through “remote access or similar means” are not entitled to any paid or unpaid leave under the Law.

The Family First Coronavirus Reponses Act

Also on March 18, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed and President Trump signed into law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”). Effective April 1, 2020, the FFCRA, among other things, requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide eligible full-time employees with up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave and part-time employees with a number of hours equal to the number of hours that such employee works over a two-week period.

As a result of the enactment of the FFCRA, employees otherwise covered under the New York Law are eligible to receive the difference between what the FFCRA provides and what is available under the New York Law only where the benefits provided by the New York state law are in excess (or more generous) than the benefits provided by the FFCRA. Indeed, recognizing the possibility of the federal government passing COVID-19 legislation, the New York Law was intended to supplement any shortfall between it and the benefits offered by the FFCRA.

 

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