On March 18, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (A10152/S8090), which went into effect immediately, to address the needs of employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income of less than $1 million will provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
Employers with 11-99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million will provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection for the duration of the quarantine order, and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.
Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers (regardless of number of employees), will provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.
New York State is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
On March 18, the Governor also signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), a relief package that, among other things, extends employee paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave benefits and includes tax credits to employers. The leave provisions go into effect April 2, and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.
The Act temporarily expands FMLA coverage and paid sick leave for employees impacted by COVID-19, including caring for individuals with COVID-19.
The Act changes the current employee threshold for FMLA coverage from only covering employers with 50 or more employees to now (temporarily) covering employers with fewer than 500 employees. The eligibility requirement is reduced to cover any employee who has worked for the employer for at least 30 days before the first day of leave. The Act allows the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.
Under the Act, eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their child (under age 18) if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
The first 10 days of Emergency FMLA may be unpaid. An employee may elect to use accrued paid leave (vacation or sick leave) to cover any portion of the 10-day unpaid period. After the 10-day period, the employer generally must pay full-time employees at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate (capped at $200 per day) for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled. The total amount payable is $10,000 per employee.
The Act provides refundable tax credits for employers providing paid sick leave or paid FMLA as required by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Employers will be entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid for each calendar quarter in adherence with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The amount of qualified family leave wages taken into account for each employee is capped at $511 per day if caring for themselves or $200 if caring for a family member or child for up to 10 days per employee in each calendar quarter, capped at $10,000 per calendar quarter. If the credit exceeds the employer’s total liability under Revenue Code section 3111(a) or 3221(a) for all employees for any calendar quarter, then the excess credit is refundable to the employer.