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New York State and U.S. Federal Government

COVID-19 Relief Legislation Aims to Help Employees

New York State

On March 18, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that guarantees workers Paid Sick Leave (PSL) for time off of work related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation provides that, effective immediately, “during any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation” mandated by public health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Employees at private companies with 100 or more employees, and public employees, receive a minimum of 14 days of PSL.
  • Employees at private companies with 10 or fewer employees that have a net income of greater than $1 million, and at private companies with between 11 and 99 employees, receive at least five days of PSL, followed by eligibility for Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits.
  • Employees at private companies with 10 or fewer employees and that have a net income of less than $1 million receive unpaid sick leave and are eligible for PFL and TDI benefits.
  • Employees at businesses that close because of COVID-19 can immediately file for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Companies cannot fire employees because they do not go into the office while the government is recommending that people stay at home.

Additionally, the legislation guarantees that employees at small to midsize companies receive up to 40 hours of PSL per year; employees at companies with more than 100 employees receive up to 56 hours of PSL per year; and employees at companies with fewer than five employees, and with a net income of less than $1 million in the previous year, receive up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per year. If the net income was more than $1 million in the previous year, the leave must be paid. According to the bill, this policy goes into effect 180 days after the legislature passes it.

U.S. Federal

Similarly, on the federal level, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (FFCRA), which provides PSL to workers in the U.S. impacted by the novel coronavirus. Specifically, the legislation would provide all employees with two weeks of PSL, 90 days of family and medical leave for some workers, and enhanced unemployment insurance for impacted workers. The legislation would ensure that employers with up to 500 employees offer up to 12 weeks of PSL to their workers who, as a result of COVID-19:

  • Are subject to a required quarantine order, or are caring for someone who is subject to such an order;
  • Have been advised by a doctor to self-quarantine, or are caring for someone who has been advised to self-quarantine;
  • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking to be tested for the virus; or
  • Are caring for a child due to the closure of a school or place of care.

Under the FFCRA, employees who are on sick leave as a result of the virus receive their full pay per day, and employees who are on leave to care for children due to school or place of care closures are paid at two-thirds the worker’s regular rate of pay. Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave under the FFCRA.

*Required Disclaimer: This alert is provided for informational purposes and does not constitute, and should not be considered legal advice. Specific facts and circumstances will differ. Neither the transmission nor the receipt of this information shall create an attorney-client relationship between the transmitter and the recipient. You should not take, or refrain from taking, any action based upon information contained in this alert without consulting legal counsel of your own choosing. Under applicable professional rules of conduct, this informational publication may be considered attorney advertising.

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