With the economic impact of COVID-19 rippling from the federal level and throughout the public and private sectors, New York State Senate Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that the assembly and state senate just passed a bill to expand paid sick leave to all public and private sector workers forced into precautionary or mandatory quarantine due to the coronavirus.
“No one should have to worry about losing their job should they come down with or are quarantined because of the coronavirus,” Heastie said. “The legislation we passed will help save lives by ensuring people that are sick stay home, and it will allow people to recover without having to worry about losing their livelihood. The Assembly Majority will continue working, both safely and relentlessly, to put New York families first during this health emergency and beyond.”
In order to help protect New York’s workers and to curb the spread of COVID-19, this legislation will make all private and public sector employees eligible for sick leave and wage replacement during a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Employees that work for small-sized employers, which includes employers with 10 or fewer employees and that have a net income of less than $1 million, would receive unpaid sick leave and immediately become eligible for Paid Family Leave and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits. Those working for medium-sized employers, which includes employers with 10 or fewer employees that have a net income of greater than $1 million and employers with between 11 and 99 employees, would receive at least five days of paid sick leave, followed by eligibility for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits. Those working for employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employees, would receive a minimum of 14 days of paid sick leave.
The bill will allow these employees to collect Paid Family Leave benefits, supplemented by increased TDI benefits to make their weekly wages whole, for those who earn up to a maximum of $150,000 annually.
Additionally, it eliminates the waiting period for these benefits, as well as for unemployment insurance for claims related to the coronavirus. It also expands Paid Family Leave benefits to cover an employee or their dependent child if they are under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to coronavirus.
In announcing a three-way agreement with the legislature on a bill guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo followed his announcement that the state will guarantee two full weeks of paid leave for all state workers who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus.
“The paid sick leave measure we’ve agreed to expands those protections to all New Yorkers—because no New Yorker should lose their job or income for following a critical public health order,” Cuomo said. “This is an extraordinary time in this nation’s history, and it will go down in the history books as one of those moments of true crisis and confusion. So my message to New Yorkers is this: Be a little bit more sensitive, understand the stress, understand the fear, be a little bit more loving, a little bit more compassionate, a little bit more comforting, a little bit more cooperative. We are going to get through it and we are going to get through it together.”
The measure is part of a paid sick leave policy Cuomo first introduced in January.
Labor advocates like Make the Road New York’s co-executive director Deborah Axt express concern that the paid sick leave deal doesn’t do enough to coverage gaps for independent workers.
“Governor Cuomo and the legislature should also address the critical situation of independent contractors, small businesses and immigrant workers who have had their incomes cut off or who are running the great personal risks, taking care of the delivery, food, healthcare and transportation needs of the rest of us in this terrifying time,” Axt said in a statement.
The Senate passed the bill on March 18 by a vote of 50-6. The Assembly passed the bill that evening by a vote of 131-3.
Visit www.NYC.gov to find out more about paid sick leave.