New York State Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law to Assist Workers Impacted by Coronavirus

The global coronavirus pandemic has had an immense impact on the economy in a very short period of time. Many workers who have not yet shown the symptoms of the disease known as COVID-19 find themselves needing to self-quarantine because of possible exposure. Those who do show symptoms must also quarantine themselves and seek medical treatment. Several new laws offer assistance to workers affected by the pandemic. The federal government passed a bill in March 2020 establishing a temporary system of paid sick leave for many workers. New York State also passed a bill in March providing paid sick leave and expanding access to the state’s Paid Family Leave program.

Overlap of State and Federal Law

The bill passed by the U.S. Congress, entitled the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, creates a temporary system for paid sick leave that expires at the end of 2020, unless Congress acts to renew or modify it. New York State’s new law does not have an expiration date.

The New York law states that if a worker is entitled to paid leave under both state and federal law, then they are only eligible for state benefits under state law to the extent that they exceed the amount of benefits available under federal law. In other words, if federal law requires an employer to pay a particular employee $100 per day, and state law requires them to pay $120 per day, state law only covers the $20 excess amount.

Eligibility for Benefits Under State Law

The new law provides benefits to individuals who are subject to a government-issued “mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation” because of COVID-19. It makes several exceptions, including people in quarantine who:
– Recently returned from travel to a country that was subject to “a level two or three travel health notice” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when such travel was not directly related to their employment, and when the person had received notice of the travel warning prior to their trip; and
– Do not show symptoms of COVID-19 or have “not yet been diagnosed with any medical condition,” and who are “physically able to work…whether through remote access or other similar means.”

Job Protection During and After Sick Leave

State law provides job protection for anyone using leave. It requires employers to reinstate workers to the position they held before they took leave, with the same rate of pay and all other terms of employment.

Amount of Benefits Under State Law

The amount of benefits available under the new state law vary depending on the size, structure, and net income of the employer.
– Private and nonprofit employers with no more than ten employees and annual net income under $1 million: Access to the Paid Family Leave program at their regular rate of pay, up to $150,000, for the duration of the quarantine.
– Private and nonprofit employers with 11 to 99 employees and net income of $1 million or more: Five days of paid sick leave, followed by access to paid family leave as provided above.
– Private and nonprofit employers with 100 or more employees and all public employers: A minimum of fourteen days of paid sick leave.

The skilled and knowledgeable employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates help workers assert their rights in claims for unlawful employment practices in New York City. Please contact us online or at (212) 248-7431 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team.

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