As we recently reported, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide paid Family Medical Leave (FMLA) and paid sick leave to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the law provides a number of protections to American workers, it also has a few gaps. One gap in the FFCRA, for example, is that it does not apply to employers of 500 or more employees.

On March 18, 2020, New York became the first state to implement a paid sick leave law for New York residents affected by COVID-19. Among other things, the law fills the gap created by the federal legislation by applying to employers of 500 or more employees. Under the law, employees who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation (issued by New York State, a local health board or any other governmental entity authorized to issue such an order) are entitled to the following protections, based on employer size:

  • For employers with 10 or fewer employees that have a net income of less than $1 million, each employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 must be provided unpaid sick leave until the termination of the order of quarantine or isolation. During the period of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation, the employee will be eligible for New York paid family leave benefits and short-term disability benefits, both of which are explained in detail below.
  • For employers with 10 or fewer employees that have a net income of greater than $1 million and for employers with 11-99 employees, each employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation must be provided at least five days of paid sick leave and unpaid leave until the termination of the order of quarantine or isolation. After the five days of paid sick leave have been exhausted, the employee will be eligible for paid family leave benefits and short-term disability benefits.
  • For employers with 100+ employees and for public employers (regardless of size), each employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation must be provided at least 14 days of paid sick leave during the order of quarantine or isolation.

As stated above, the law provides for New York Paid Family Leave benefits and short-term disability benefits. Specifically, the law allows for paid family leave benefits and short-term disability benefits equal to 100% of an employee’s weekly wages, capped at $840.70 in weekly paid family leave benefits and $2,043.92 in weekly disability benefits. These benefits are to be paid concurrently to an eligible employee upon the first day of an unpaid period of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation.

The paid leave mandated under this law must be provided without any loss to the employee’s accrued sick leave. Thus, any leave provided under this law will be in addition to any leave offered by an employer. Also, once an employee returns to work, he or she must be restored to the position of employment held prior to the leave being taken. The law has an anti-discrimination provision as well.