Among the many efforts to protect New Yorkers who have been affected by COVID-19, a new mandate has been enacted to help with paid sick leave. This new law states that employers must now provide at least five days of paid sick leave to employees who must quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.
This law and the leave afforded depends on the number of employees. In general New York businesses with five employees or more OR with over $1 million in net income must provide paid sick time for COVID-19 related time off. Businesses with less than five employees or less than $1 million in net income must provide unpaid sick leave for employees.
This legislation was signed by Governor Cuomo on April 3, 2020. Covered employees began accruing leave (one hour every 30 hours worked) on September 30, 2020 and will be able to start using this accrued leave on January 1, 2021.
What Does Paid Sick Leave Cover?
Paid sick leave allows employees to receive compensation for their job even while they are unable to work due to sickness. If an employee falls ill due to COVID-19, for example, employers must allow them at least five days of paid sick leave so they do not have to work in an office or with others and risk passing the illness onto other employees.
Unpaid sick leave is approved leave that is not paid. So while the employee will not be paid for their time off, they must still be allowed to have approved time off if they fall sick with COVID-19.
As COVID-19 cases begin to grow, this new law is designed to allow employees time off to isolate in order to not pass on COVID-19.
Remember that under this legislation, employers cannot require you to work from home or telecommute. While work from home options may be offered, employees have the right to use paid or unpaid sick leave for time off without telecommuting or working from home.
Differences Between Employee Sizes
This legislation has rules that vary depending on the size of a business. As stated before, businesses with less than four employees or $1 million in net income or less, employers must provide up to 40 hours of sick leave.
Businesses with anywhere between five to 99 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year while businesses with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
Accruals for paid sick leave works at one hour per every thirty hours worked. This does not include hours not worked or hours spent over paid sick leave. If you take paid sick leave, for example, you will not accrue more leave for those hours used.
Who Qualifies for Paid Sick Leave
Most employees in New York qualify for paid sick leave from their employer. The only employees who may not be covered include federal, state and local government employees. If you work in the private sector in New York State, you should have the ability to take paid sick leave from your employer under this new legislation.
This coverage may also apply if one of your family members falls sick. Family members covered under paid sick leave include children, spouses, domestic partners, parents, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents and more. Parents can include biological, foster, step or adoptive parents. Make sure your loved ones are covered so that you can take off work without suffering a gap in payment if needed.
Do You Have to Have COVID-19 to Use Paid Sick Leave?
Paid sick leave can be used for other circumstances aside from COVID-19 illness. To qualify for sick leave, however, you may be expected to provide proof of your injury or illness depending on where you work.
Covered incidents under sick leave include:
- Mental or physical illness
- Injury or health condition either diagnosed or requiring medical care
- Diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness
- Need for medical diagnosis or preventive care
Be sure to speak with your insurance provider about requirements and exclusions when it comes to your employer’s sick leave program. Keep in mind your rights and connect with a professional if you believe your rights to paid or unpaid sick leave are being ignored.
In a time of uncertainty, it is crucial that you have the time and money you need to recover from illness or incident.