New York’s COVID-19 Paid Leave

Empty NYC streets during COVID-19 lockdown

Separate from the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act we wrote about last week, New York State has passed its own COVID-19 Paid Leave legislation.

The New York bill, signed by Governor Cuomo and made effective March 18, seeks to address the immediate needs of nonworking employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to “mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation.” The legislation differs from the federal Act mainly in that it specifically and exclusively addresses the impact of governmental quarantine orders, rather than any diagnoses or doctors’ orders.

The legislation explicitly does not apply to any employees able to work from home.

The bill also breaks employers into smaller subgroups when it comes to their obligations to employees. As opposed to the federal Act, which had the same requirements for all employers with fewer than 500 employees, the New York bill dictates the following:

Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million must provide their workers:

  • Job protection for the duration of the quarantine order
  • Guaranteed access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine – including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000. Here’s a link to apply for Paid Family Leave and disability benefits in New York .

Employers 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million, in addition to ALL Employers with 11-99 employees, must provide their workers:

  • Minimum 5 days of paid sick leave
  • Job protection for the duration of the quarantine order
  • Guaranteed access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), must provide their workers:

  • Minimum 14 days of paid sick leave
  • Guaranteed job protection for the duration of the quarantine order

Additional Notes:

The state has issued a helpful guide for employers about NY COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave here.

Employees and employers can get more detailed information on specific situations here.

NYC Earned Sick Time Act

The New York City Earned Sick Time Act went into effect April 1, 2014. To help our clients and other production companies, we want to convey our understanding of the Act here. This is not a full accounting of the legislation, just a summary of our review of it. Please check with your legal advisors as to how the Act affects your business.

For purposes of the Act, the production company employers, and not the payroll company, are the employers of the personnel. The payroll company will not have an obligation to fund or administer required benefits under the Act, except to the extent of accounting for such time based on the personnel’s payroll records for those personnel for which we provide payroll services on behalf of your company.

The Act requires employers of five or more employees to provide paid sick leave to full and part time employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year. Such employers are to provide a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year. However, employers with five to 19 employees will receive a grace period until October 1, 2014. Employers with fewer than five employees are required to provide sick time, but it need not be paid.

The sick time begins to accrue on either April 1, 2014, or the commencement of employment, whichever is later of the two. Employees may begin to utilize their sick time 120 days after sick time begins to accrue. If an employee has a break in service of less than six months, the employer is required to restore any unpaid accruals of sick time to the employee upon reinstatement. However, if the employee was paid for unused sick time at the point of separation from employment, or has a longer break in service, the employee would start their accruals from scratch, except there would be no 120 day waiting period.

Employers are required to provide an employee with written notice of the employee’s rights under the Act by May 1, 2014, or at commencement of employment, whichever is later. The notice must be in English, and if other than English, the primary language spoken by the employee, provided the Department of Consumer Affairs has made available a translation of such notice in such language. Click to download the Department’s Mandatory Notice of Employee Rights. You can also read the Department’s Paid Sick Leave Frequently Asked Questions for more clarification about your responsibilities under the Earned Sick Time Act.

There are exceptions that apply to the Act, including, but not limited to, if an employer already provides its employees with time off, vacation, personal days, or days of rest that meet the requirements of the Act and that can be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions of the Act, the employer need not provide additional sick time. Additionally, if employees are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’) that waives the provisions of the Act and provides for “comparable benefits” in the form of “paid days off” (as defined in the Act), then the Act does not apply. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing the Act.

An employee has two years from the date the employee knew or should have known of an alleged violation to file a complaint with the Department. The Department can impose civil penalties and grant current or former employees appropriate relief, as detailed in the Act. Please note that due to the Act being so new, the Act itself is still subject to some degree of change. We are not in a position to provide you with legal or benefits-related advice concerning the application of the Act to your company.

For more detailed information concerning the Act, please visit the Department’s page about it here. Due to the various nuances and exceptions under the Act, again we strongly urge you to consult with your advisors to obtain advice about the applicability of the Act to your company and the scope of your company’s obligations under the Act, so that you can plan for the impact of the law on your business as it takes effect. Furthermore, in light of the Act, if your company has a current paid or unpaid time off policy, you need to speak with your advisors to determine whether or not your policies comply.

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