New York Lawmakers Pass Emergency Coronavirus Bill Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave for Quarantined Workers

March 19, 2020 Updated: March 19, 2020
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New York lawmakers on Wednesday passed an emergency paid sick leave bill that will ensure all public and private sector employees impacted by the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, quarantines will continue to receive paychecks.

The state Senate and Assembly passed the bill from an eerily empty Senate chamber as lawmakers continue to practice social distancing in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading.

The measure will “ensure every New York employee will be able to continue to receive paychecks, without having to charge their available time if they need to undergo a quarantine or isolation,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) after highlighting that workers “should not be penalized if they receive a quarantine or isolation order.”

As per the bill, employers with 10 or fewer employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020) and a net income of less than $1 million shall provide unpaid sick leave until the termination of any quarantine or isolation, and guarantee employees access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 11-99 employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020) and employers with 10 or fewer employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020) and a net income greater than $1 million shall provide at least 5 days paid sick leave, and then unpaid sick leave until the termination of any quarantine or isolation. Further, employers must guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the period of quarantine including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.

Employers with 100 or more employees (as of Jan. 1, 2020), as well as public employers (regardless of the number of employees), shall provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave during any order of quarantine or isolation. Public employers, such as schools and local governments must do the same.

The bill follows New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last week that the state will guarantee two full weeks of paid leave for all state workers quarantined as a result of the novel coronavirus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media and tours a newly opened drive through COVID-19 mobile testing center in New Rochelle, New York on March 13, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Cuomo mandated that all non-essential businesses in the state implement work-from-home policies with workforces reduced by 75 percent.

Businesses that rely on in-office personnel must decrease their in-office workforce by 75 percent, but essential service industries, including shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks, and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain will be exempt from the executive order.

“We are fighting a war against this pandemic and we know that two of the most effective ways to stop it is by reducing density and increasing our hospital capacity so our healthcare system is not overwhelmed,” Governor Cuomo said.

“Partnering with the private sector to require nonessential employees to work from home will also go a long way toward bending the curve. My number one priority is protecting the public health so that a wave of new cases doesn’t crash our hospital system, and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve that goal.”

According to a Johns Hopkins tally, the United States has 9,415 confirmed cases of the disease and 150 deaths attributed to the CCP virus, of which New York state accounts for 20.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.