March 18, 2020 By Christian Murray
The State senate has passed legislation that will make sure that private sector workers receive paid leave if they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill also helps small businesses cover the tab— many struggling to stay afloat due to plummeting revenue—through state insurance programs. However, for companies with more than 10 employees they will have to cover at least a portion of the cost.
“Workers should not be penalized if they receive a quarantine or isolation order,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who leads the chamber controlled by Democrats.
The paid leave will last for the duration of the order and is intended so New Yorkers follow all precautions and are not financially punished for helping contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation will cover the cost for business owners who have less than 10 employees and reported net income under $1 million last year. The full cost of the leave will be provided by New York State insurance programs—capped at benefits coverage equal to annual salaries of $150,000.
However, larger companies—those with between 11-99 employees or reported more than $1 million in income– will be required to cover the cost of the first 5 days an employee is required to leave work. The remaining time will be covered by state insurance.
Companies with more than 100 employees—and government institutions—will be required to cover at least 14 days of paid leave.
“Working families are the backbone of New York’s economy, and by providing each New Yorker with guaranteed paid sick leave, we’re no longer forcing people to choose between their health and paying for food, rent or utilities,” said State Sen. Jessica Ramos, chair of the senate labor committee who sponsored the bill.
The bill also provides other worker safeguards as layoffs loom.
The bill waives the 7-day waiting period before New Yorkers can apply for unemployment insurance.