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New York State Issues Updated COVID-19 Sick Leave Guidance

January 28, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, New York State enacted a law providing sick leave and job-related protections for employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19.

The law specified the amount of sick time an employee could receive depending on their employer’s size and annual income with:

  • five paid sick days for employers with up to 10 employees (and a net income over $1 million);
  • five paid sick days for employers with 11-99 employees (regardless of net income); and
  • 14 paid sick days for employers with 100 or more employees (regardless of net income).

The law did not specify whether employees could qualify for such leave for more than one order of quarantine or isolation.

Healthcare Employees Eligible for COVID-19 Sick Leave for up to Three Orders of Quarantine or Isolation

On June 25, 2020, New York State subsequently released guidance specifying that in no event shall a health care employee qualify for sick leave for more than three orders of quarantine or isolation. That guidance was silent as to a cap for non-healthcare employees.

Non-Healthcare Employees Eligible for COVID-19 Sick Leave for up to Three Orders of Quarantine or Isolation

On January 20, 2021, New York State released supplemental guidance regarding the application of COVID-19 sick leave for all eligible employees. Below are key provisions.

  • Employees may qualify for leave under the New York State COVID-19 Sick Leave law for up to three orders of quarantine or isolation.
  • The second and third orders must be based on positive COVID-19 tests.
Employer-Mandated Quarantine or Isolation Must be Paid

Additionally, the supplemental guidance clarifies that if an employer mandates that an employee who is not otherwise subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation to remain out of work due to exposure or potential exposure to COVID-19, regardless of whether such exposure or potential exposure was in the workplace, the employer shall continue to pay the employee at the employee’s regular rate of pay until (i) the employer permits the employee to return to work or (ii) the employee becomes subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, at which time the employee shall receive sick leave as required by the COVID-19 Sick Leave law.

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