(by Saad Imran)

With more than 750k confirmed COVID cases, New York State has been one of the USA’s worst-hit COVID states. Reluctance to impose lockdown measures early has been termed the leading cause of a high number of infections. 

In July 2020, Gov. Cuomo of the NYS announced the NY Reopen Program, a plan to open and allow regular business functioning under specific safety guidelines. This reopening plan was divided into four phases, with each region having the liberty to develop their reopening plan under the program’s policies. 

To get to know the complete details of the Ropen NY plan, read this article

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet. With employees getting back to work and lifting of restrictions across the state, the occurrence of a COVID outbreak at your workplace cannot be ruled out. 

Read this article to learn more about how to handle and prevent a COVID outbreak at your workplace. 

Employee Leave Rights During COVID-19

Employee Leave in New York State during COVID is covered under these laws: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)New York State’s COVID-19 Leave (NYS COVID Leave)New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act, and Westchester County Earned Sick Leave Law for the residents of these regions. 

Here’s how paid leave works with COVID under these laws: 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

FFCRA is a federal law and went into effect in April 2020 and is valid till December 31, 2020. Under this law, all employers with less than 500 employees must provide up to two weeks of paid COVID leave to employees unable to work from home due to: 

  • Being subject to a COVID-19 quarantine order.
  • Being under self-quarantine after a possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus. 
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Caring for a child affected by the COVID-19 virus.

Under this law, all employees seeking leave should be paid under the regular pay rate if they experience COVID symptoms themselves and a two-thirds pay rate if they are caring for someone else. 

Additionally, employees are also entitled to ten weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they care for a child affected by COVID. Under FMLA, employees must be paid two-thirds of their regular pay rate.

Employers can be exempted from providing leave under FMLA if they have fewer than fifty employees. 

New York State’s COVID-19 Leave (NYS COVID Leave)

This law was signed into effect on March 18, 2020, and it applies to employers having any number of employees. However, it is only applicable to employees that are under mandatory quarantine order by NYS authorities. 

Under this law, the duration and type of paid leave depend upon the size of the employer. For employers having:

  • Ten or less than ten employees and a net income of less than $1 million, unpaid sick leave must be provided until the quarantine order is terminated.
  • Ten or less than ten employees and a net income greater than $1 million, five days of paid leave, and unpaid sick leave until the quarantine order’s termination must be provided. 
  • Between eleven and ninety-nine employees, at least five days of paid leave and unpaid leave until the quarantine order’s termination must be provided. 
  • Hundred or more employees, fourteen days of paid sick leave must be provided. 

All employees may be eligible for New York State Paid Family Leave and Short-term disability benefits except employees who work for employers having a hundred or more employees.

NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act & WC Earned Sick Leave Law

Both of these laws were not enacted during COVID; however, under these laws, employers with more than five employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid leave if the employee is:

  • Having a mental or physical illness, and they need diagnosis and treatment for that illness.
  • Having a family member who has a mental or physical illness and needs to take care of the family member.
  • Caring for their child affected by a public health emergency.

Under WC ESLL, employees are also entitled to such leave if they or their family members were exposed to a communicable disease.

To read more about these laws, click here

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