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State and City Governments Respond to Coronavirus

In response to the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak throughout the country, state and local governments have begun to enact measures to assist employees during this difficult time. This article will outline some actions that New York, New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut have taken.

New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a three-way agreement with the New York State Legislature on a bill which guarantees job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of COVID-19. The bill also includes a permanent paid sick leave policy.

Quarantine Legislation

The quarantine legislation provides the following:

  • Employers with ten or fewer employees and net income less than $1 million must provide job protection for the duration of an employee’s quarantine order and guarantee their employees access to Paid Family Leave and short-term disability benefits for the duration of the quarantine. This includes wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
  • Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with ten or fewer employees a net income greater than $1 million must provide employees with at least five days of paid sick leave, job protection for the period of the quarantine, job protection for the duration of an employee’s quarantine order, and guarantee their employees access to Paid Family Leave and short-term disability benefits for the duration of the quarantine. This includes wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees, and all public employers regardless of number of employees, must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the period of the quarantine.

This provisions of this quarantine legislation have gone into effect.

Paid Sick Leave

The paid sick leave policy will go into effect on September 30, 2020. This legislation provides the following:

  • Employers with four or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million must provide at least five days of unpaid sick leave each year.
  • Employers with 5-99 employees and employers with four or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million must provide at least five days of paid sick leave each year.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide at least seven days of paid sick leave each year.

This legislation is expected to be passed. We will let our readers know when these new laws go into effect.

Working from Home

Governor Cuomo has also issued a mandate, effective on Friday, March 20, 2020, that requires all non-essential employers to reduce their on-site workforce to no more than 25% of the workforce. Certain essential businesses are exempt from this order, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions.

New York City

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged assistance for businesses impacted by COVID-19. City businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25% or more are eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help alleviate losses in profit.

NYC is also offering small businesses with fewer than five employees a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees.

NYC employers who are eligible for these two programs should fill out this interest form to receive more information.

New Jersey

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the New Jersey Department of Labor (“NJDOL”) has issued guidance for how and when the employees may be eligible for benefits.

An individual can use accrued Earned Sick Leave if they are unable to work because:

  • The individual tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19;
  • The individual is told to self-quarantine because of exposure to the coronavirus, both inside and outside of the workplace;
  • The individual is told to self-quarantine by their healthcare provider because of a greater risk due to a pre-existing health condition;
  • The individual’s child’s school or daycare was ordered closed by a public official due to a public health reason;
  • The individual’s employer was ordered to close its business by a public official for a public health reason; or
  • The individual must care for a relative or loved one with COVID-19 or its symptoms.

An individual could be eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance if:

  • The individual tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, or is told to self-quarantine by their healthcare provider because of a greater risk due to a pre-existing health condition, and has used up their Earned Sick Leave and still cannot return to work.

An individual may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation if:

  • If an individual contracts the virus due to a work-related reason (such as waiting on or working with someone who contracted the virus) or was told to self-quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 during the course of their work, and has used up their Earned Sick Leave and still cannot return to work.

An individual may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits if the individual has not contracted the virus but cannot work full time because:

  • The individual’s employer voluntarily closed its business because of COVID-19;
  • The individual’s employer was ordered to close its business by a public official for a public health reason; or
  • The individual’s is losing work hours because a reduction in force related to the coronavirus.

An individual may be eligible for Family Leave Insurance if:

  • The individual has to care for a relative or loved one with coronavirus or its symptoms, has used up their Earned Sick Leave and still cannot return to work.

Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Labor (“CTDOL”) has released FAQs regarding employer and employee rights in response to the coronavirus crisis. The CTDOL guidance outlines an array of issues that employees and employers may face during the pandemic, including how and when they can apply for Unemployment Insurance and when they can use sick leave under the Paid Sick Leave law.

Jules Halpern Associates LLC

Workplace and Education Law Advisors

Jules Halpern Associates LLC
JULES HALPERN ASSOCIATES LLC is a boutique law firm committed to serving our clients in all facets of their workplace issues. We provide personalized, practical advice that resonates with our clients’ business objectives.
212-658-9313
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Jules Z. Halpern

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Garden City, New York 11530
tel: 516.466.3200 | fax: 212.658.9313

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New York, New York 10111
tel: 212.786.7380 | fax: 212.658.9313

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