Assemblyman Aubry: Sick Leave and Benefits for Those Directly Affected by Coronavirus Brings Ease During Crisis

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) announced that, after working closely with his colleagues in the Assembly and Senate and the governor, he helped pass a law that provides sick leave and other benefits to all New York employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (Ch. 25 of 2020).

“Nobody should be penalized for a situation out of their control,” Assemblyman Aubry said. “As we continue to fight this pandemic, I urge all New Yorkers to continue taking the necessary safeguards to slow its spread by staying at home whenever possible. This legislation will help ensure our families can keep focus on staying safe and healthy without worrying where their next paycheck is coming from.”

How employees of different-sized businesses will benefit

To offset current and future economic burdens families could face, the law provides comprehensive leave protections for workers:

  • Employees at large-sized businesses – those with 100 or more employees – as well as public employees will be eligible for at least 14 days of paid sick leave. These employees would not be eligible for temporary disability insurance (TDI) or paid family leave benefits.
  • Employees at medium-sized businesses ­– those with 10 or fewer employees and a net income over $1 million or between 11 and 99 employees – would be eligible for a minimum of five paid sick leave days, as well as TDI and paid family leave benefits.
  • Employees who work for small businesses that have 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million would be immediately eligible for TDI, paid family leave benefits and unpaid sick leave.
  • Regardless of business size, employers can also on their own provide employees paid sick leave at any time.

Details of paid family leave and TDI benefits

It’s vital that hardworking New Yorkers affected by this serious public health crisis have the ability to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads. To that end, the law contains these provisions for eligible employees:

  • It allows for paid family leave and TDI benefits to be paid concurrently to an eligible employee upon the first full day of an unpaid period of a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.
  • An employee may not collect any benefits for Paid Family Leave in excess of $840.70, which is the current maximum weekly benefit for 2020.
  • If necessary, employees would also be able to collect additional TDI benefits to maintain their total average weekly wage, but not more than $2,043.92 per week.
  • Overall, it allows for paid family leave benefits and increased TDI benefits equal to 100% of their weekly wages, which is capped at $150,000 annually or $2884.62 per week.
  • The measure expands paid family leave eligibility to include employees who have dependent children in quarantine or isolation.

It should also be noted that any worker who voluntarily travels to a country subject to a Level 2 or 3 CDC warning, is deemed asymptomatic and has been advised to quarantine or isolate by an authorized government entity would not be eligible for benefits or paid leave. Employees who are able to work from home are also not eligible for benefits.

What if you’re laid off?

On March 12, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new guidance to allow greater flexibility for states to administer their unemployment insurance (UI) programs in order to assist employees affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, states can now pay benefits when an employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work.

To help provide faster relief to individuals, the new state law also eliminates the one-week waiting period for UI claims arising out of workplace closures due to COVID-19.

“This public health crisis has made it abundantly clear that all New Yorkers need and deserve permanent sick leave protections,” said Assemblyman Aubry. “The health and safety of our families will always be my top priority. As we continue to combat COVID-19, I’ll keep fighting for measures that give our communities the relief they need in this difficult time.”