NEW YORK STATE QUARANTINE LEAVE LAW

Just as the federal government is addressing this, the State of New York is enacting legislation to address how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting employees.

On March 18, 2020, New York State enacted the Quarantine Leave Law (“Law”). The Law provides for additional paid and unpaid leave, and expands the state’s paid family leave and disability benefits to certain employees who are “subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation… issued by the State, the Department of Health, local board of health or any government entity authorized to issue such order” related to COVID-19. The law became effective immediately.

Who is covered under the New York Law? What leave is provided?

To address the immediate need of any employee affected by COVID-19 who is subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation, the Law provides the following benefits:

  • Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million must provide job protection for the quarantine order’s duration.
  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million must provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave and job protection for the quarantine order’s duration.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the quarantine order’s duration.

The current “New York State on PAUSE” requirement that all non-essential businesses close or only allow work from home, critically, does not entitle displaced workers benefits under the Law. An order of “quarantine or isolation” is an order of a public health official that encompasses a specific individual. The recent “stay at home” order by Governor Cuomo, by contrast, is not an order of “quarantine or isolation” because that is based upon an Executive Order, which does not meet the definition of a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.

Additionally, employees who are asymptomatic or have not yet been diagnosed with any medical condition and are physically able to work remotely during the quarantine or isolation order are exempt from the Law. Moreover, leave benefits are not available to an employee who is quarantined or isolated because the employee returned to the United States from non-work travel to a country cited by the CDC as a “level two or three travel health notice,” if the individual received the CDC’s notice and was informed of this exception prior to travelling. Those employees must be allowed to use their other “accrued leave” or, if they do not have any available for use, must be provided unpaid leave for the duration of the quarantine or isolation.

Expanded Paid Family Leave and Disability Benefits Under the Law

The Quarantine Leave Law expands employee entitlement and benefits provided by the government under the New York State Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) and the Disability Benefits Law (“DBL”) during any period of mandatory quarantine or isolation. By way of background, under PFL, virtually all employees in New York are entitled to paid family leave benefits provided by the Government for time off needed to care for family members. DBL benefits are also paid by the government and available only in the event of an employee’s leave due to personal injury or illness.

Pursuant to the Quarantine Leave Law, eligible employees of private employers with fewer than 100 employees will be entitled to PFL and enhanced DBL benefits for any days of a quarantine for which they are not entitled to receive paid quarantine leave. The Law is silent on whether employees of employers with 100 or more employees may be eligible for such statutory benefits. Employees who are eligible for PFL and/or DBL benefits may begin collecting such benefits on their first day of quarantine leave, if not otherwise entitled to paid leave, as the normal waiting period is eliminated for purposes of the Law.

Significantly, eligible quarantined employees are also entitled to collect PFL and DBL benefits concurrently (which is otherwise prohibited under current law), up to 100 percent of their average weekly wages for those earning up to $150,000 per year, subject to weekly limits of $840.70 (PFL) and $2,043.92 (DBL), totaling $2,884.62.

How does this relate to the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

On April 1, 2020, the federal “The Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (“Federal Act”) becomes effective. Once the Federal Program goes into effect, it will become the primary source for COVID-19 benefits. In other words, most New Yorkers looking to request benefits after that date, need to file for support on the Federal, not the State, level. After that date, the NY program will only be available for New Yorkers who exceed the Federal program’s salary cap and can file for supplemental benefits bridging between the Federal and State caps.

Here is a chart that summarizes how the NY and Federal law interrelate:

Employer Size (by employee count)

Job protection

Covered Duration Starting 3/18/20

Employer’s Role

Employee’s pat/benefits Starting 3/18/20


1-10 (less than $1m annual net income)

Yes

Duration of quarantine until Federal program starts (unless NY has richer benefits)

Unpaid sick leave until end of quarantine

Sick leave is entirely compensated through DBL/PFL benefits concurrently:

Combined maximum of $2884.62/week


1-10 (more than $1m annual net income)

Yes

Duration of quarantine until Federal program starts (unless NY has richer benefits)

At least 5 days paid sick leave by ER

+
Unpaid sick leave until end of quarantine

Days 1-5:

Full salary continuation by employer

Days 6+

Concurrent DBL/PFL benefits:

Combined maximum of $2884.62/week


11-99

Yes

Duration of quarantine until Federal program starts (unless NY has richer benefits)

At least 5 days paid sick leave by ER

+

Unpaid sick leave until end of quarantine

Days 1-5:

Full salary continuation by employer

Days 6+

Concurrent DB:/PFL benefits:

Combined maximum of $2884.62/week


100+

Yes

At least 14 days

Full duration paid at regular salary by ER

Full salary continuation by employer


Public Employers

Yes

At least 14 days

Full duration paid by regular salary by ER

Full salary continuation by employer

As often happens with quickly enacted legislations, questions remain on all of its terms and there will likely be amendments.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Chris Lowe at Chris@lipskylowe.com or Doug Lipsky at doug@lipskylowe.com. You can also always visit our website for the latest updates: https://lipskylowe.com/category/covid-19/

Stay Safe. Stay Calm. Stay Inside. Wash Your Hands.

Posted in: COVID-19

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