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3 Things You Should Know about New York’s Comprehensive Sick and Family Leave Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sick LeaveNew York’s Comprehensive Sick and Family Leave Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic

New York State is known to have the strongest employee health and family leave policies in the country. Since 2016 when Governor Cuomo signed the state’s comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy into place, workers have enjoyed protection from having to choose between their families and their jobs. State legislators also passed the New York Sick Leave Law (NYSLL) in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Under that law, workers statewide are entitled to sick leave specific to COVID-19 and no longer have a waiting period for paid family leave and temporary disability benefits.

1. New York’s Paid Family Leave Policy Offers Support and Protection for Workers

The law grants eligible employees the right to paid time off to care for family members who are ill, bond with new children in the family via birth, adoption, or fostering, and assist loved ones whose immediate family is deployed abroad for active military service. In addition to paid time off, the law also grants job protection, continued health insurance benefits, and protection from discrimination and retaliation to those using their benefits.

In 2020, the state’s Paid Family Leave benefits entered its third phase of a four-year phase-in, which brought benefits to even more employees and offers even more financial security.

The most recent update, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, entitles eligible farm laborers to benefits under the act. Additionally, the number of weeks employees can take when they need time off will continue to rise through 2021 until it reaches 12 weeks of protected time off.

Furthermore, the new year brought an increase in wage replacement benefits. Employees using Paid Family Leave are entitled to 60 percent of their average weekly wages. The maximum benefit in 2020 is just under $841. In 2021 the benefit will increase to 67 percent of average weekly wages.

In addition to the increase in benefits, New Yorkers still enjoy all of the same protections the law provides, including:

  • The right to return to the same job after return from Paid Family Leave
  • Access to health insurance while on leave under the same terms they had while working
  • Protection against discrimination or retaliation when they utilize their benefits

The protection provided in the Paid Family Leave law covers New York workers regardless of citizenship. To learn more about New York’s Paid Family Leave Benefit, check out this information.

If a family member becomes ill with COVID-19, New York workers can use Paid Family Leave to care for that person. This is especially beneficial to those whose family members develop a severe case of the illness and require extended care.

2. The New York Sick Leave Law Ensures Nobody Will Lose their Job for Falling Ill with COVID-19

The New York Sick Leave law, which was passed on March 18, 2020, ensures that New York workers receive sick leave and job protection if they are sick with COVID-19. Employers might be subject to both the NYSLL, as well as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. Whichever law offers the most generous benefit in any given situation applies.

The NYSLL protects those whose income has been affected by the mandatory or precautionary need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. It does not apply to all situations so it’s important to review your options and determine what benefits you are eligible for under the law. The NYSLL is complex and benefits might be available in a variety of different situations.

You can learn more about the NYSLL here or contact us to discuss your specific situation.

3. NYSLL and Other Laws Determine Who is Available for Benefits

It is important to note:

  • Employees receive immediate sick leave benefits under both state and federal laws regardless of how long they have been employed
  • Paid sick leave and family leave benefits are based on either a pre-determined amount or how much an employee works in a given week
  • Small businesses might be exempted from the federal laws if there is a threat posed to their viability, but this is not the case under the NYSLL
  • Benefits might be available to employees subject to government quarantines or isolations, sick employees, or employees caring for children

The combination of laws governing employee benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak create a complex situation. If you have experienced confusion or had a difficult time getting clarification from your Human Resources department regarding your benefits, you are not alone.

If you believe you are entitled to a benefit that was denied or you have other questions about how your employer is handling COVID-19 issues, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.



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