As COVID-19 continues to circulate, it is important for employers in New York State to be aware of their obligations to provide paid leave to certain employees who are affected by the virus.
Under New York law, employers with more than 100 employees must provide up to 14 days of paid COVID-19 sick leave to employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Employers with 11 to 99 employees, or 1 to 10 employees with a net annual income greater than $1 million, must provide up to five (5) days of paid COVID-19 sick leave. Employees who work for an employer with 10 or fewer employees and a net annual income less than $1 million must be provided with unpaid leave by their employer but may be eligible for benefits through a combination of the employer’s Paid Family Leave and Disability benefits program.
Employees are eligible for up to three occurrences of paid leave; however, the second and third occurrences must be based on a positive test.
Employees who are not subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation may still be eligible for paid time off under other laws, such as the New York State Paid Family Leave Law. Additional information on current quarantine and isolation guidance can be obtained from ny.health.gov.
Best Practices for Employers
In addition to complying with the law, employers can also take a number of steps to maintain a safe and healthy workplace and support employees who are affected by COVID-19 and/or other seasonal illnesses (e.g., cold and flu) such as:
- Follow Applicable Public Health Guidance. Continue to monitor the State’s latest response to COVID-19 as well as Federal/CDC guidance and prevention actions should this change.
- Encourage employees to get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccination is the best way to protect against COVID-19, and employers can play a role in encouraging vaccination by offering paid time off for vaccination appointments and providing educational resources about the benefits of vaccination. The state vaccination leave law will remain in effect until December 31, 2023.
- Allow employees to work remotely if possible. Remote work can help to reduce the risk of virus transmission in the workplace and allow employees to continue working even if they are sick or need to quarantine.
- Provide employees with paid sick leave. Even if an employer is not required by law to provide paid COVID-19 sick leave, employees may be eligible for paid leave under NY’s Paid Sick Leave law. This will help employees to afford to stay home when they are sick and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
- Communicate with employees regularly. Communicate good common sense safety measures for the fall/winter cold and flu season (i.e., staying home when sick, washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, posting general housekeeping signage, etc.). Keep employees informed about your policies and procedures related to COVID-19, as well as any changes to those policies and procedures.