COVID-19 Paid Leave: Guidance for Employers
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Overview

As an employer, there are important things for you to know – and actions to take – related to the new COVID-19 quarantine paid leave legislation signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Understanding the Law

The new law guarantees job-protected paid leave to workers who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation for COVID-19, issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order, or whose minor dependent child is under such an order.

Most employees will get financial compensation through a combination of benefits. These benefits are not available to employees who are able to work through remote access or through other means.

Employee’s Own Quarantine/Isolation

The leave available to employees if they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation depends on the size of your business as of January 1, 2020, and/or whether you are a private or public employer.

 

Small businesses with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020, and that had a net annual income less than $1 million last year must provide your employees with:

  • Job protection for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation

 

Your employees can access benefits through your Paid Family Leave and disability benefits policy, for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation.

 


Medium businesses with 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020, and smaller employers (1-10 employees) that had a net annual income greater than $1 million last year must provide your employees with:

  • Job protection for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation
  • At least 5 days of paid sick leave
     

Your employees can then access benefits through your Paid Family Leave and disability benefits policy.

 


Large businesses with 100 or more employees as of January 1, 2020, must provide your employees with:

  • Job protection for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation
  • At least 14 days of paid sick leave
     

Public employers (no matter how many employees) must provide your employees with:

  • Job protection for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation
  • At least 14 days of paid sick leave

 

Quarantine/Isolation of an Employee’s Minor Dependent Child

Most employees whose minor dependent child is under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19, may be eligible to take Paid Family Leave to care for them. Eligibility for covered employees is the same as it is for other Paid Family Leave.

Employer Responsibilities

Your role in implementing the new COVID-19 quarantine leave provided through Paid Family Leave and disability benefits, whether you're self-insured or providing these benefits through an insurance carrier, is largely the same as it has been for NY Paid Family Leave overall; however, there are new COVID-19-specific forms and attestations. 
 

  • Inform yourself, then inform your employees: Make sure you understand the new law yourself. Let your employees know that these benefits are available to them, should they, or their minor dependent child, be subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. If you have a specific process for handling these claims with your employees, advise them accordingly.
  • Respond to requests for leave: Familiarize yourself with your role in the request process for COVID-19-related Paid Family Leave and/or disability benefits. Here’s how the request process works:
     

Employee notifies you of their intent to request leave and gets the appropriate form package (or you can provide the forms to them)


Complete and return: Each request package has two forms, which have sections to be completed by the employee and you as the employer.  The employee will fill out their portion of each form, keep a copy, and submit the package to you for completing your sections, which ask you to:

  • Provide the employee’s average weekly wage. An employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) is computed by adding his or her wages for the eight weeks prior to the start of Paid Family Leave, and dividing the total by eight. For a sole proprietor who has opted into Paid Family Leave, the average weekly wage will be the last 52 weeks of income divided by 52.
  • Attest that the employee has used any quarantine paid sick time and is not able to work remotely.


Keep a copy for your records and return the completed request package to the employee within three business days. If you fail to return the forms within three business days, the employee can proceed without your information.

 

Employee submits to insurer:  The employee is responsible for submitting their completed request package directly to your DB/PFL insurance carrier within 30 days of their first day of leave. Employees may ask you for the name and contact information of your insurance carrier.  Employees may also access this information by calling the Paid Family Leave Helpline at (844) 337-6303.

Insurer pays or denies benefits: The insurance carrier must pay or deny the employee’s request within 18 calendar days of receiving the completed request.

 

  • Ensure Other Protections: You are also responsible for ensuring important employee protections.
    • Job protection: You must reinstate the employee to the same or a comparable position, upon returning from leave.
    • No discrimination: You cannot discriminate or retaliate against an employee for requesting or taking Paid Family Leave.
    • Continued health insurance: You must continue to provide health insurance on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work while they are on Paid Family Leave. If employees regularly contribute to the cost of their health insurance, they must continue to pay their portion of the cost while on leave. 

Additional Resources