As a continuation to last week’s special topic about unemployment, we would like to share information about additional benefits provided to workers who may be unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike unemployment benefits, the following benefits are requested directly through your employer. This is a right; it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for requesting or using your leave benefits.
If I work in New York State or New York City, which laws could provide me sick time during the coronavirus pandemic?
Paid sick leave can help care for yourself and your loved ones if you are a New York worker who is still employed. Workers in New York State may be eligible for either federal or state emergency paid sick leave coverage. If you work in New York City, you may also be eligible for paid family sick and safe leave under local law that can be used on top of state or federal emergency leave.
GENERAL PAID SICK LEAVE INFORMATION
What is New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave?
New York City Paid Sick Time gives workers up to 40 hours of sick time a year, which can be used to:
- recover from physical/mental illness or injury;
- seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care;
- care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care;
- cover lost work time when employer’s business closes due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider closed due to a public health emergency; or
- address certain non-medical needs that may arise if the worker or a family member are victims of domestic violence, a sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.
How do I know if I am covered?
If you work as an employee in New York City for more than 80 hours in a year, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time, part-time, or temporary worker. Workers are covered regardless of immigration status. However, the law does not cover federal, state, and municipal employees, independent contractors, and a few other narrow groups.
How much sick time can I earn?
You earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. If your workplace has 5 or more workers, that time must be paid. If your workplace has fewer than 5 workers, your sick time may be unpaid—but you can’t be fired or punished for taking it. Domestic workers receive 2 days of paid sick time after one year of employment. All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using or requesting their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).
When can I begin using my sick time?
You can use paid sick time 120 days after the start of your employment.
Do I need a doctor’s note?
Only after more than 3 consecutive days of absence (and the note does not have to specify your illness).
FEDERAL FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)
What is the Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
- FFCRA became effective April 1, 2020 and expires December 31,2020.
- It provides 80 hours of paid sick leave for a variety of coronavirus related purposes for full-time workers (and a prorated amount of time for part-time workers).
- If you cannot work or telework due to caring for your son or daughter because their school or place of care has been closed or their child care provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus, the law also provides for up to 12 weeks of emergency family leave, of which 10 weeks must be paid.
What are the coronavirus-related purposes covered by the FFCRA?
Employees seeking FFCRA coverage must be:
- Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order OR been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to coronavirus;
- Experiencing coronavirus symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- Caring for an individual (including a member of the worker’s immediate family, housemate, or someone with whom they have a relationship and are expected to care for) who is (self) quarantined or isolated at the direction of federal, state, or local orders or a health care provider due to concerns related to coronavirus;
- Caring for a son or daughter if a school or place of care has been closed due to coronavirus, or the child care provider of the son or daughter is unavailable due to coronavirus; or
- Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and the Treasury.
Who is covered by the FFCRA?
You are covered if you work as an employee in any public agency regardless of size or
a private entity with less than 500 employees total.
NYS EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE
What is New York State’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Legislation?
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York State, Governor Cuomo has guaranteed workers job protection and financial compensation in the event they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.
How do I know if I am eligible for NYS Emergency Paid Sick Leave?
- If you are not eligible for FFCRA leave, you may be eligible for leave and benefits under the NYS Emergency Sick Leave if you work for any public agency (except for the federal government)
- or a private entity, regardless of size
- and if you qualify for a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation by the state of New York, the department of health, a local board of health, or a government agency authorized to issue such an order because of COVID-19.
To be entitled to this leave, workers must have documentation showing that they were eligible for an order into mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation by an authorized government agency—a general order to stay home is not sufficient.
How can I obtain an order of quarantine or isolation?
You can get a mandatory order of quarantine if you have:
- been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but is not displaying symptoms.
- tested positive for COVID-19, whether or not you are displaying symptoms.
- been exposed to (but have not had direct contact with) a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
New Yorkers can check if they are qualified to claim paid sick leave and obtain the documentation they need by calling the Health Department at 855-491-2667
How long will I be covered by the NYS Emergency Paid Sick Leave?
New York State Emergency Sick Leave covers the length of your quarantine or isolation order by providing sick pay directly from your employer
- for 5 calendar days if your employer has either between 11 and 99 employees, or 10 or fewer employees with a net annual income of more than $1 million in the last tax year
- 14 calendar days if your employer has 100 or more employees or a public employer of any size (other than the federal government).
- If your employer has 10 or fewer employees (and a net income of less than $1 million) or your quarantine/isolation order goes longer than what is required from your employer, you can apply for special paid family leave/temporary disability insurance benefits to cover the unpaid portion of the order.
What is paid family leave?
Paid Family Leave is used by an eligible employee if they, or their minor dependent child, are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.
What are temporary disability insurance benefits?
The Disability Benefits Law provides weekly cash benefits to replace, in part, wages lost due to injuries or illnesses that do not arise out of or in the course of employment.