On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed A10153, a bill designed to provide paid sick leave and wage replacement for workers who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. While the bill provides public assistance for employees affected by the pandemic, it requires certain employers to provide additional paid sick leave to employees impacted by COVID-19. The new law’s provisions took effect immediately once Governor Cuomo signed it on Wednesday.

Depending upon workforce size and net income in the last fiscal year (and as described below), New York employers are required to provide between 5 and 14 days of paid sick leave to employees who are subject to orders of quarantine or isolation by a governmental entity. Thereafter, employers must provide unpaid sick leave to those employees for the remainder of the employees’ quarantine or isolation. These additional paid sick days cannot come at the expense of the employee’s already accrued paid leave time. After the employers’ paid sick leave obligation has run out, employees will be immediately eligible for Paid Family Leave and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits from the state for the duration of their quarantine or isolation. The bill also provides immediate Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits to employees whose employers have been shut down temporarily or permanently because of the coronavirus.

There are two notable exceptions to the employer obligations laid out in the bill. The bill excludes those employees who have traveled to CDC-designated Level 2 or Level 3 countries for non-employment purposes if the traveler was made aware of the CDC travel health notice status before entering the at-risk country. Additionally, if an employee is still able to work, either because of remote access capabilities or otherwise, the employer does not have to provide additional paid leave.

Employer Obligations Under the New Law

Below is a summary of the law’s requirements for New York employers.

  • Employers with fewer than 10 employees and who had a net income of less than $1 million in the last fiscal year will not be responsible for providing additional paid sick leave to employees. Instead, employees of these companies will be immediately eligible for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits through the state.
  • Employers with fewer than 10 employees with net incomes of more than $1 million and employers with 11 to 99 employees will be required to provide at least 5 additional days of paid sick leave for its employees who are subject to quarantine or isolation orders. After the 5 days have been exhausted, the employees will be immediately eligible for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits.
  • Employers with more than 100 employees must provide at least 14 additional days of paid sick leave to their employees who are subject to quarantine or isolation orders.
  • Public employers must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay for the regular number of hours worked. This encompasses state and local employees, fire and police employees, and employees of public school districts, colleges, and universities.
  • Employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment actions against employees because of their quarantine or isolation status. This includes termination, pay decreases, or threats of an adverse employment action.
  • Once employees exhaust the additional paid sick provided by employers, they become immediately eligible for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits. An order of quarantine or isolation is sufficient to establish disability for TDI benefits. Affected employees will earn up to their weekly salary in benefits, up to $2,043.92 per week in disability and up to $840.70 in paid family leave (up to the equivalent of a $150,000 per year salary).

Schiff Hardin’s Coronavirus Task Force will continue to address the significant business, legal, and economic challenges that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for additional insights on ongoing COVID-19 pandemic challenges and issues facing businesses, such as this post on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.