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UPDATED: New York State Issues Additional Guidance for Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill (US)

New York State’s COVID-19 sick leave law has been in effect since March 18, 2020 (see our prior posts here and here). Since then, several questions have remained largely unanswered for both New York employers and employees as they navigate the eligibility and application requirements of the new law, which offers individual job-protected paid or unpaid sick leave as well as expanded paid family and disability benefits for employees.

Fortunately, the state has provided some additional guidance through its recently updated FAQ, including:

  • Eligible employees may obtain the mandatory or precautionary order (and if applicable for their child) from their local health department (either in electronic or paper format).
  • Alternatively, if the health department is unable to immediately provide the requisite order, then a licensed medical provider that has treated the employee (or employee’s child), may provide documentation attesting that the employee or employee’s child qualify for such order, specifically:
  • Mandatory Isolation: An employee must submit documentation attesting that the employee or the employee’s child has tested positive for COVID-19, or that testing is not currently available for the employee or the employee’s child, but the employee or employee’s child has COVID-19 symptoms and has been in contact with a known COVID-19 case.
  • Mandatory Quarantine: An employee must submit documentation attesting that the employee or the employee’s child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who is currently in mandatory isolation, or the employee or the employee’s child has COVID-19 symptoms and has returned within the past 14 days from a country designated with a level 2, 3, or 4 advisory for COVID-19.
  • Precautionary Quarantine: An employee must submit documentation attesting that the employee or the employee’s child is asymptomatic and has returned within the past 14 days from a country designated with a level 2, 3, or 4 advisory for COVID-19, or the employee or the employee’s child has been determined to have had proximate exposure with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 while that person was symptomatic.

Based on this updated guidance, and while the law or state’s website itself does not expressly say so, it does not appear that Governor Cuomo’s “PAUSE” Order constitutes a mandatory or precautionary Order of Quarantine or Isolation.  An employee would therefore not automatically qualify for sick leave or paid family and/or disability benefits simply because their employer is considered “non-essential” and has closed pursuant to the Governor’s order (and the employee is unable or permitted to telework).  Instead, the employee (or employee’s child) must be individually subject to such a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation per the above-mentioned specifications.  New York State directs employees who have been laid off or who work for an employer that has gone out of business or temporarily closed because of COVID-19 to file for unemployment insurance.

Note that Governor Cuomo has also directed that the in-person “non-essential” workforce restrictions be continued for an additional two (2) weeks through Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Katharine Liao, Employment Lawyer, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Partner

Katharine Liao represents employers in the retail, entertainment, technology and healthcare industries in all aspects of employment-related litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies. Resident in the firm’s New York office, her practice is global with a particular emphasis and extensive experience with California and New York wage and hour class action litigation.

Having defeated class certification on multiple occasions, Katharine focuses her practice on defending wage-and-hour class actions involving claims of meal...

212 872 9804
Lauren Herz Labor & Employment Lawyer Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Associate

Lauren Herz represents companies in a wide variety of matters that arise out of the employment relationship. She serves clients in a broad range of industries and has significant experience in the fashion and beauty industries.

212-872-9820