On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed New York State’s Paid Sick Leave Law into law which provides mandatory sick leave for employees across New York State.
Employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19 are eligible for benefits determined by the size and revenue of their employer.
Beyond any available paid or unpaid sick leave, employees may also be eligible for paid family leave benefits and disability benefits under the applicable guidelines of each.
Notably, an employee is not eligible for benefits under the Paid Sick Leave Law if the quarantine order is a result of the employee (a) traveling to a country with a level 2 or 3 travel health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and (b) that travel was not part of his or her employment or at the request of the employer, and the employee was provided notice of the travel health notice and the limitations on being able to receive paid sick leave pursuant to the law.
The Paid Sick Leave Law does not apply if an employee is asymptomatic or has not yet been diagnosed with any medical condition and is physically able to work while under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, whether through remote access or other similar means. Moreover, any sick leave provided pursuant to the new law does not affect or subtract from an employee’s accrued sick leave available under local law, such as New York City or Westchester earned sick leave provisions, or under existing employer policies.
Benefits Determined by Employer Size:
Employer size is based on the number of employees as of January 1, 2020, and based on the company’s net income in the previous tax year.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and $1 million or less of net income: Employees will receive unpaid leave until the termination of any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. However, these employees will immediately qualify for paid family leave and temporary disability benefits and will have full job protection.
- Employers with 11 to 99 employees, and employers with 10 or fewer employees and more than $1 million of net income in the previous tax year: Employees will receive five days of paid sick leave and then unpaid leave. After the employee uses the five days of paid sick leave, these employees will qualify for paid family leave and temporary disability benefits and will have full job protection.
- Public employers or employers with 100 or more employees: Employees will receive 14 days of paid sick leave and then unpaid leave. These employees must be compensated at their regular rate of pay for those regular work hours which the employee is absent due to either a mandatory or precautionary quarantine.
The New York Paid Sick Leave Law’s requirements do not apply to private employers that voluntarily close business operations due to health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19.
- The Paid Sick Leave Law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who takes sick leave in accordance with the law. Any employee using statutorily authorized paid sick leave must be restored to the position and same rate of pay they held prior to their use of sick leave.
- The Paid Sick Leave Law allows for employees to receive disability and family leave benefits concurrently upon the first full day of an unpaid period of mandatory or precautionary quarantine. These benefits would run concurrently and provide an eligible employee a weekly maximum of $840.70 in family leave benefits and $2,043.95 in disability benefits. The usual waiting period for disability benefits has been eliminated for this purpose.
- New York’s sick leave benefits related to COVID-19 are expressly not intended to interfere with the federal legislation recently enacted. Rather, they provide coverage for employees who were not eligible under the new federal laws or in the event the state law provides greater benefits than the federal law.
EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 14, 2020:
Employees in New York State will be eligible for guaranteed sick leave benefits. Similar to the sick leave available related to COVID-19, these benefits will be based on the number of employees and the net income in the prior tax year.
- Employers with four or fewer employees and with a net income equal to or less than $1 million in the prior tax year – employees will receive up to 40 hours unpaid sick leave in each calendar year.
- Employers with five to 99 employees, and employees of employers with four or fewer employees and more than $1 million net income – employees will receive 40 hours of paid sick leave.
- Public employers or employers with 100 or more employees – employees will receive 56 hours of paid sick leave.
- This paid sick leave should accrue at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers are not prohibited from providing sick leave, paid or unpaid, in excess of the amounts required under this law.
EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2021:
Beginning on January 1, 2021, an employer will provide an employee, upon oral or written request, with accrued sick leave for the following purposes:
- For a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of such employee or such employee’s family member, regardless if a diagnosis has been made or medical care is required;
- For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of, or preventative care for, such employee or such employee’s family member; and
- For an absence from work due to domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking, for such employee or a family member to seek services or assistance.
Notably, all employers remain subject to local sick leave ordinances that exceed the requirements of the Paid Sick Leave Law.