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The state Senate and Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that ensures employees in New York State will be able to access paid leave if they are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Paid-Sick Leave bill into law — which takes effect immediately — and it also waives the 7-day waiting period before New Yorkers can apply for unemployment insurance. 

“No one should have to make the impossible choice between losing their job or providing for their family and going to work, especially during this pandemic,” Cuomo said. “We seek to build upon this effort with guaranteed sick leave for all in this year’s budget. “In New York we stand with our workers in sickness and in health.”

State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who sponsored the legislation to protect the jobs of New Yorkers during the coronavirus crisis, said, “No one should fear losing their income because their child has been exposed to this terrible virus.”

“Throughout my career I have been a leader in protecting workers, especially related to paid family leave and sick leave,” Nolan said. “This fight is especially personal to us all as COVID-19 upends our daily lives. I continue to fight in Albany to protect you and your families in these trying times.”

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the bill will help struggling New Yorkers support themselves and their families during this extremely difficult time. 

“The impact the coronavirus is having on all businesses, both large and small, is staggering and will likely get worse before it gets better,” Stavisky said. “The federal government must pass their legislation to provide funding for New York State. Our bill protects workers who have to stay home as a result of this crisis.”

“The burden of financial stress could force New Yorkers to make poor decisions, ignore the advice of health experts, and further the spread of the virus,” Stavisky added. “We are asking business owners and their employees to take unprecedented measures to ensure public safety, in order to help New York stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Senator Jessica Ramos, chair of the Senate Labor Committee and bill sponsor, said the legislation is important in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency, as employers require or advise their workers to self-quarantine. 

“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,” Ramos said. 

The legislation advanced by the Senate Majority, S.8091, will ensure paid leave will last for the duration of their order, and is intended so that New Yorkers listen to precautions and are not financially punished for helping to contain the coronavirus pandemic. 

This legislation is another example of the Senate Majority’s work to support New York’s small businesses, as it will require state insurance programs to cover the full cost of workers’ salaries for New York’s smallest businesses, and everything following a week of leave for medium businesses.

  •  Businesses who have 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020, and a net income under $1 million last fiscal year, will have the full cost of employee’s leave provided by New York State insurance programs, capped at benefits coverage equal to annual salaries of $150,000.
  •   Businesses who have 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020, and businesses who have 10 or fewer employees but a net income greater than $1 million last fiscal year, will be required to provide 5 days of paid leave to their employees, and the rest of the required quarantine or isolation days provided by New York State insurance programs, capped at benefits coverage equal to annual salaries of $150,000.
  • Businesses who have 100 or more employees, and all government institutions, will be required to cover at least 14 days of paid leave.

 “Workers should not be penalized if they receive a quarantine or isolation order,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “The legislation passed by the Senate Majority 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. The Senate Majority will continue to work with our colleagues in government to flatten the curve of the disease and protect New Yorkers’ health.”

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