Late in the evening March 18, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a Paid Sick Leave (PSL) bill that only applies to the COVID-19 time period.
Enacted PSL Bill Summary:
The bill, found here, provides that mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation shall mean issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.
To address the immediate need of employees affected by COVID-19 who are subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation, the new law provides that as of January 1, 2020:
The law requires that in the event of federal action on the coronavirus, employers must apply the plan most generous to employees. As such in most cases, New York State’s new emergency paid sick leave will be more generous for employee’s subject to quarantine or isolation by a public health official or that have a minor child quarantined as described below. In that case, employers should provide benefits provided by that law. In the case of an employee requiring leave to care for a child whose school has closed due to the coronavirus, or other applicable situations, the Federal law would be most generous and would be in effect.
o An employee making $150,000 per year ($2,884.62 per week) may be eligible for:
§ $840.70 payment from PFL (60% of average weekly wage to the 2020 maximum benefit amount), and
§ $2,043.92 payment from DBL (a significant, temporary increase over the current maximum of $170/wk.)
o There is no waiting period for the commencement of DBL payments under these circumstances. PFL/DBL benefits may also be used to care for a dependent minor child under such a mandatory quarantine of isolation order; However, this provision does not apply in cases where the child’s school is closed and requires daycare.
- A 10-day waiting period before any Emergency FMLA. During this 10-day period, an employee may elect to substitute any accrued paid leave (like vacation or sick leave) to cover some or all of the 10-day unpaid period
- After the 10-day period, the employer generally must pay full-time employees at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled. The act contains guidance on calculating part-time employee benefits.
§ The new act now limits this pay entitlement to $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate per employee.
- Job Restoration – Employers with 25 or more employees have the same obligation as under traditional FMLA to return any employee who has taken Emergency FMLA to the same or equivalent position upon the return to work. However, employers with fewer than 25 employees are generally excluded from this requirement if the employee’s position no longer exists following the Emergency FMLA leave due to an economic downtown or other circumstances caused by a public health emergency during the period of Emergency FMLA.
§ This act takes effect April 2, 2020 and remains in effect until December 31, 2020.
o There are new paid sick leave requirements, which include:
§ Allowing an eligible employee to take paid sick leave because the employee is:
o The federal bill provides a series of refundable tax credits for employers who are required to provide the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave described above.
o These tax credits are allowed against the employer portion of Social Security taxes. While this limits application of the tax credit, employers will be reimbursed if their costs for qualified sick leave or qualified family leave wages exceed the taxes they would owe.
o Specifically, employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter in adherence with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
§ The qualified sick leave wages are capped at $511 per day ($200 per day if the leave is for caring for a family member or child) for up to 10 days per employee in each calendar quarter.
o Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified family leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter in accordance with the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
- The qualified family leave wages are capped at $200 per day for each individual up to $10,000 total per calendar quarter. Only those employers who are required to offer Emergency FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave may receive these credits.