NYS COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law

In response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York State, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has guaranteed workers job protection and financial compensation in the event 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. For more information visit the NYDOL website: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/COVID19.

Most employees will get financial compensation by using a combination of benefits, which may include new employer-provided paid sick leave (depending on the size of the employer), Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. These benefits are not available to employees who are able to work through remote access or other means.

Employees are only eligible for paid or unpaid COVID-19 quarantine leave if they are “under an order of quarantine – either mandatory or precautionary.” The guidance makes clear that this “order” does not come from an employee’s private health care provider, but rather from the State of New York, the New York State Department of Health, a local Board of Health or any government entity authorized to issue such order.

Q: How much paid sick time are employees entitled to?
A: Depends on the employer size and annual income.

  • Employers with 1-10 employees (as of 1/1/20) and Net Income of less than $1 million in 2019: Employers are not required to provide new paid sick days. Instead, use Paid Family Leave and Disability benefits.
  • Employers with 1-10 employees (as of 1/1/20) and Net Income of $1 million or more in 2019: Employers must provide at least five paid sick days.
  • Employers with 11-99 employees (as of 1/1/20): Employers must provide at least five paid sick days.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees (as of 1/1/20): Employers must provide at least 14 paid sick days.

Q: What is the rate of pay for an employee on COVID-19 Quarantine leave?
A: Employees must receive the amount that they otherwise would have received had they worked during the period on leave.

Q: What is the rate of pay for part-time, project-based and commissioned workers on COVID-19 Leave?
A: Part-time, commissioned and other employees who are not paid a fixed wage should be paid based on “an average daily pay rate” for a “representative period of time” (the latter chosen by the employer).

Q: How do employees get an Order of Quarantine?
A: To get an order of precautionary or mandatory order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, you should contact your Local Health Department (LHD). If your LHD is unable to immediately provide you with an order:
1. Submit documentation from a licensed medical provider that has treated you, attesting (as described below under “DOCUMENTATION GUIDANCE”) that you qualify for the order; AND
2. Follow up with your LHD to obtain the order and submit it to your insurance carrier as soon as it is available. LHDs must provide requested orders within 30 days.

Q: What if an employer requests an employee to stay home on a precautionary basis? Does this new law apply to an employee who “self-quarantines”?
A: No, not unless the employee is under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine issued by the State of New York, New York State Department of Health, a local Board of Health or any government entity authorized to issue such order. If employers send employees home on a precautionary quarantine, employees are entitled to job protection, COVID-19 sick leave and/or paid benefits through the employer’s Paid Family Leave, and disability benefits insurance provider for the duration of their quarantine.

Q: Can an employee whose child’s school or daycare is closed use NYS COVID-19 quarantine leave?
A: No, but if the school or daycare is closed because of a quarantine order issued by one of the above governmental entities, the employee might be eligible for NY paid family leave benefits.

Q: Is an employee who is able to work remotely and is asymptomatic eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave?
A: No. Nor can the employee apply for paid family leave or disability benefits.

Q: Is an employee who is unable to work because their employer is closed on a temporary or permanent basis eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave?
A: No. These employees are not eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave and should apply for unemployment benefits.

Q: Is the fourteen-day period provided for in part of the law calculated as calendar days rather than work days?
A: Yes, for employers who employed more than 100 full-time workers in New York as of January 2020. The NYDOL’s guidance clarifies that covered employers are not required to provide up to fourteen days of paid time off. Rather, the time periods provided for in the new law are calendar days, not work days. In other words, a covered employer is only required to pay the employee the “amount of money that the employee would have otherwise received” during the fourteen calendar day period.

Q: Is COVID-19 quarantine leave available retroactively?
A: An employee who is currently under an order of quarantine or isolation can take COVID-19 quarantine leave even if that order was issued before the enactment of the law (March 18, 2020) and is still in effect. However, the guidance does not address whether leave must be provided for the time spent by an employee under an order of quarantine that expired before March 18, 2020.

Q: Can employees be required to use previously available PTO to cover the period of quarantine?
A: No. However, COVID-19 quarantine leave must be provided in addition to employees’ other available PTO (vacation, sick and/or personal time off).