Providing Paid Leave During COVID Outbreak: NY Law
The alarming rise and spread of COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives in new and troubling ways for the foreseeable future. Social distancing and a shelter-in-place policy requiring non-essential employees to work from home affects every single New Yorker. Given that we are in the middle of a pandemic with no end date, landlords, management companies, and property owners need to know or be refreshed on what rights under New York State and New York City laws their employees can exercise in terms of sick leave.
NYS Coronavirus Quarantine Leave Law
Paid leave for an employee’s self-quarantine. New York State just passed a paid sick leave law focused solely on employees under an order of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation or affected by one due to COVID-19. It does not apply to employees who can work remotely or by other means. The leave an employee may be entitled to will depend on the size of the employer and the employer’s net annual income. The size of the employer is determined as of Jan. 1, 2020. There is no waiting period for any of these benefits.
Eligible employees who work for an employer with 10 or fewer employees and a business net annual income of less than $1 million are entitled to use a combination of New York State Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. Eligible employees can use New York State Paid Family Leave, which provides 60 percent of an employee’s pay, for a maximum weekly benefit of up to $840.70.
If an eligible employee’s weekly wage is higher than $840.70, she can apply to receive additional benefits through disability benefits insurance. The maximum weekly disability benefit is $2,043.92.
For eligible employees who work for an employer with between 11 – 99 employees and employers of 1 – 10 employees with a business net annual income greater than $1 million, eligible employees are given more protections. An employer in this category must provide an employee with at least five days of paid sick leave. After those five days, an employee is entitled to use the same combination of paid family leave and disability benefits.
Finally, an employer with 100 or more employees must provide eligible employees with at least 14 days of paid sick leave for a COVID-19-related quarantine.
Paid leave to care for a minor child under quarantine. Eligible employees are entitled to paid family leave to care for a minor dependent child who is under quarantine. Eligible employees are only those who cannot work through remote access or other means. A full-time employee who works 20 or more hours per week is eligible after 26 weeks of consecutive employment. A part-time employee is eligible after working for more than 175 days, which do not need to be consecutive.
An eligible employee can take paid family leave for the duration of the quarantine. The wage benefit is 60 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70.
NYS Paid Family Leave to Care for Family Member
Remember that, under the New York State Paid Family Leave Law effective Jan. 1, 2018, employees may take paid leave time to care for a family member who is seriously ill. A “family member” is one of the following: a spouse, domestic partner, child or stepchild, parent or stepparent, parent-in-law, or grandchild or step grandchild. A serious medical condition is either inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility or continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.
An eligible employee may be entitled to up to 10 weeks of paid family leave. Again, the wage benefit is 60 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70.
NYC Paid Sick Leave Law
New York City enacted its paid sick leave law in 2014 and it covers full-time, temporary, and per diem workers. It provides that employers with five or more employees must provide paid sick leave. Employers with four or fewer employees must also provide sick leave, but it can be unpaid.
Employers must provide a minimum of 40 hours of sick leave per year. Workers accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, for a maximum of 40 hours. Unused sick leave (of up to 40 hours) can be accrued and must be carried over into the next year. Even if a business is located outside of New York City, it must provide sick leave to workers who work at least 80 hours in New York City.
An employee must provide at least seven days’ notice if such leave is foreseeable. If leave is not foreseeable, an employee must give reasonable notice. Finally, if a worker takes more than three days off consecutively, an employer can require that an employee provide documentation from a licensed health care provider. That has to be provided by the employee within seven days of returning to work. As it stands, the licensed health provider does not have to state the nature of the employee’s illness. Given COVID-19’s high rate of infectiousness, this requirement may change.
When in doubt, consult an attorney. We will all come through this as a community by working together to protect ourselves and our families.