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COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses, Employers, and More


Wayne Naegele

COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses, Employers, and More

March 25, 2020

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends,

We are rapidly reviewing federal and local guidance to provide you with tools to structure your responses in this rapidly changing environment. Here is some information to immediately assist employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including qualified disaster relief payments. Expect some provisions to change. We will try to forward updates as they occur:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – https://www.dol.gov/

  • Paid Sick Leave

1. Starts 04/01/2020 and ends on 12/31/2020.

2. Federal law – employers with 500 or fewer employees must pay 80 hours of sick pay which will be offset by federal payroll tax credits (when and how TBD).

3. No 30-day work requirement.

4. Under this Act, an employee qualifies for expanded family and medical leave if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

a. Is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (for example, NYC is NOT under quarantine).

b. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19.

c. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.

d. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) self-quarantine as described in (2).

e. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19. 

f. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury. 

5. Emergency Sick Leave Hourly Entitlement:

a. Full-time employees are entitles to 80 hours of sick leave pay. 

b. Part-time employees are entitled to the average number of weekly hours of pay they worked for the six months prior to taking paid sick leave, for a two-week period. If they have worked less than six months prior to leave, they are entitled to the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work over a two-week period.

6. Sick Leave Payment and Caps:

a. Sick leave is paid at an employee’s normal hourly rate but capped at a total of $511 per day up to $5,110 total per employee if used for reasons a through c above, in other words, for the employer’s own needs.

b. Sick leave is paid at two-thirds the employee’s rate if used for reasons d through f above and capped at $200 per day up to $2,000 total.

7. For an employee who is unable to work because of Coronavirus quarantine or self-quarantine or has Coronavirus symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis, eligible employers may receive a refundable sick leave credit for sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, for a total of 10 days.

8. For an employee who is caring for someone with Coronavirus, or is caring for a child because the child’s school or child care facility is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus, eligible employers may claim a credit for two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate, for up to 10 days. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.

  • Paid Expanded Family & Medical Leave

1. Starts 04/01/2020 & ends on 12/31/2020.

2. Applies to Employers with fewer than 500 employees, providing employee has worked for employer for at least 30 calendar days prior to leave.

3. Only covers absences due to COVID-19 school & childcare closures (under 18 only).

4. First 10 days of leave are unpaid (but employees can use other paid leave).

5. Remainder of 12-week leave period is paid at two-thirds (2/3) of employee’s normal rate for the employee’s normal workweek.

6. Eligible employers may receive a refundable childcare leave credit. This credit is equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate.

NYS COVID-19 Quarantine Paid Leave Act

1. Applies to workers who are subject to an order of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation for COVID-19 issued by the NYS Dept of Heath.

2. Exceptions – the NY COVID-19 Quarantine Paid Leave Act has several exceptions:

a. Employees voluntarily practicing social distancing and voluntary self-quarantine are not covered by this law.

b. Quarantine and isolation leave would not apply to private employers that voluntarily close related to safety and health concerns in connection with COVID-19.

c. Employees may not take paid sick leave if they are deemed asymptomatic or have not yet been diagnosed with a medical condition.

d. Employees that are physically able to work remotely or through other means while under a mandatory quarantine or isolation.

e. Certain employees who are quarantined as a result of non-business travel to level 2 or 3 counties as designated by the CDC are not eligible for leave.

3. Under this act, all New York State employers are required to provide job protection to their employees. The law’s paid leave provisions depend on the size of the employer:

a. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and less than $1 million in 2019 Net Income have no obligation to pay for sick leave for the period of the quarantine or isolation order but must give their employees access to NYS Paid Family Leave insurance and Short-Term Disability Benefits.

b. Employers with 10 or fewer employees and more than $1 million in 2019 Net Income must provide at least five days of paid sick leave, and after that must give their employees access to NYS Paid Family Leave insurance and Short-Term Disability Benefits.

c. Employers with between 11 and 99 employees must provide at least five days of paid sick leave, and after that must give their employees access to NYS Paid Family Leave insurance and Short-Term Disability Benefits.

d. Employers with at least 100 employees must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave.

4. For updates, please visit https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/covid19 

NYS Paid Family Leave Insurance and Disability Insurance

1. Employees can apply for NYS Paid Family Leave Insurance (NYS PFLI) and Disability Insurance. Employers can provide employees with policy numbers, or employees can look up policy numbers online at http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/ebiz/icempcovsearch/icempcovsearch_overview.jsp

2. If possible, employees should apply for these first before applying for NYS Unemployment Insurance. If the employment has been terminated, then the employee cannot file a claim using this insurance.

3. Details on these Insurances:

a. NYS PFLI pays 60% of the employees’ compensation up to a max of $840.70/week (this is based on the employee’s last 8 weeks of gross wages).

b. NYS Disability Insurance benefits are concurrently available to employees and can be applied on the same application. The maximum weekly benefit would be $2,043.92.

c. While collecting NYS PFLI and/or Disability, the employee has job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

d. Applies to employers with less than 100 employees.

e. You can find the NYS PFL and Disability Insurance claims form at http://docs.paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/content/main/forms/PFLDocs/scovid19

4. For updates, please visit https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/covid19

NYS Unemployment Insurance

1. NYS Unemployment Insurance pays 1/26 of the employee’s highest quarterly earnings from the last 4 quarters, up to a max of $504/week.

2. NYS is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for unemployment benefits for people out of work due to Covid-19.

3. An employee cannot collect NYS Unemployment Insurance benefits while receiving NYS Paid Family Leave Insurance benefits.

4. You may file an Unemployment Insurance claim at https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm

5. For updates, please visit https://labor.ny.gov/ui/ui_index.shtm

The well being of our employees, clients, colleagues, family and friends is our utmost priority. We are all working remotely to provide you with updates, prepare tax returns and work on other services we provide. Rest assured; we are here to provide you with assistance in these uncharted waters. Don’t hesitate to contact your Presti & Naegele professional or call our main number 212-736-0055 and you will be directed to someone who can help. Stay safe.

Presti & Naegele