As COVID-19 hits its third wave of the pandemic due to the Omicron variant, it is critical for employers to remain compliant with their obligations under the New York COVID-19 Sick Leave Law (the “Law”). The Law is designed to protect employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine issued by New York State, the Department of Health, or any other government entity authorized to provide such an order.
The Law requires paid and unpaid sick leave to employees, at the employee’s existing pay rate, based on the size and net income of the employer:
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees must provide unpaid, job-protected leave until the termination of the order of quarantine or isolation.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million in 2019, or employers with 11 to 99 employees, must provide five days of paid, job-protected leave followed by unpaid, job-protected leave until the termination of the order of quarantine or isolation.
- Employers with 100 or more employees must provide fourteen days of paid, job-protected leave followed by unpaid, job-protected leave until the termination of the order of quarantine or isolation.
Subsequent guidance from the New York State Department of Labor (the “DOL”) expanded upon the obligations of employers under the Law, which states that an employee who receives a positive diagnostic test and submits documentation of the same from a licensed medical provider or testing facility must not report to work and shall be deemed subject to a mandatory order or isolation without the need for an order from a governmental authority. DOL also states that an employer who mandates an employee to remain out of work due to an actual or potential exposure to COVID-19 – regardless of whether the actual or potential exposure occurred in the workplace or not – pay the employee their regular rate of pay until the employer allows the employee to return to work. However, DOL limits employees’ entitlement to sick leave under the Law to three orders of quarantine or isolation.
Even in light of these onerous requirements, there are actions that employers can take to mitigate the financial burden imposed by the Law and DOL’s guidance. Contact The Wagoner Firm to learn more about the COVID-19 Sick Leave Law and ways your business can mitigate its financial obligations under the same.