US: Covid-19 Related Paid Time Off
New York Enacts COVID-19 Paid Vaccination Leave Law
On March 20, 2021, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, signed into law legislation that grants public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The law requires all New York employers to provide employees up to 4 hours of paid leave for each COVID-19 vaccine injection received by the employee. The law states that employees shall be compensated for their leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay. The new leave law, which amends Article 6 of the New York Labor Law by adding a new section 196-c, expires on December 31, 2022.
New York COVID – 19 Paid Leave
As of January 1, 2021, New York’s COVID-19 sick leave law provides paid and unpaid sick leave, with access to expanded paid family leave and temporary disability, for employees ordered to quarantine or isolate as a result of COVID-19.
As per the guidance, all New York employees are eligible to take up to 2 additional periods of paid sick leave for COVID-19 under the law, if the employee:
- Receives a positive diagnostic test for COVID-19 following a period of mandatory quarantine or isolation; or
- Continues to test positive for COVID-19 after the conclusion of a mandatory period of quarantine or isolation.
The second and third COVID-19 period must be based on a positive COVID-19 test in accordance with the guidance. This entitles employees to up to three periods of 14 days of paid leave (42 days total), this amounts to a very significant new entitlement. This New York law had no expiration date.
California enacts Emergency Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law
On March 19, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95, which creates new Labor Code section 248.2 and states that employers have to provide employees with supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) for various COVID-related absences in addition to paid time off benefits employees receive by law or policy. The leave will apply to employers with more than 25 employees. The leave will be available to the employees from March 29, 2021.
Last year many local jurisdictions throughout California chose to enact their own paid sick leave ordinances to provide supplemental paid sick leave benefits to employees in other industries who did not qualify for benefits under FFCRA or Executive Order N-51-20. With the expiration of FFCRA at the end of 2020, however, the only employees able to take supplemental sick leave in 2021 were those who worked in local jurisdictions that had extended the deadlines of their ordinances. SB 95 will cover any employees statewide who are either unable to work or telework for an employer due to specified reasons related to COVID-19.
The new statutes will apply retroactively to require employers to compensate certain employees who previously took unpaid leave for COVID-19 reasons, from January 1, 2021, and are effective through September 30, 2021.
Amount of Leave
- Full-Time Employees receive 80 hours if either their employer considers them to work full time or, on average, they worked or were scheduled to work at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks preceding the date they took leave.
- Non-Full-Time Employees with a normal weekly schedule receive the total number of hours they are normally scheduled to work over two weeks. Employees who work a variable number of hours, whose tenure is six months or more, receive 14 times the average number of hours they worked each day in the six months preceding their leave date. Employees who worked 14 days or fewer receive leave hours equal to their total number of hours worked.
Reason for Leave
- The employee is under quarantine due to COVID-19 as defined by federal, state, or local orders or guidelines.
- The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is attending an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevents the employee from being able to work or telework.
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for a family member who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or guideline or who has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable on the premises for reasons related to COVID-19.
Employees will determine how many leave hours they need to use. Employees get to choose whether they will use supplemental or some other paid or unpaid leave benefit their employer provides, or the law requires, to cover an absence.