The COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted business in New York. But, business goes on. Meanwhile, employers must know the employee benefits that must be offered during COVID-19 in NY.
Both state and federal guidelines entitle employees to basic benefits. But, the State of New York has changed existing policies to support troubled employees. What are the employee benefits requirements?
Unemployment Insurance Assistance
The State has new mandatory employee benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. It ordinarily offers Unemployment Insurance Assistance. And, New Yorkers who meet certain eligibility requirements can receive them.
For example, to file a claim, they must have worked a certain amount of time and earned enough money. The law also requires that they have lost a job through no fault of their own. Finally, recipients must demonstrate a willingness to work when receiving benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This federal program …
provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but do not qualify for traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI).
New York State Department of Labor
In addition to the existing unemployment benefit, it qualifies recipients to receive extra funds, offering up to 39 weeks of PUA benefits and an extra $600/week until the end of July.
New York COVID-19 Sick Leave Law
New legislation states that employers must pay New York employees quarantine sick leave. In effect, employees presenting an "order of quarantine or isolation" receive sick leave.
State and local health departments issue such orders to patients under investigation for COVID-19. However, quarantine or isolation recommendations from employee health care providers do not qualify.
Leave benefits vary from business to business, depending upon the employer's net income. And, the Coronavirus quarantine sick leave comes in addition to existing accrued leave. This includes the New York City Earned Sick and Safe Time Act and the Westchester County Earned Sick and Safe Time Law. Employers should notify employees of the availability of these rights if they receive an order.
Employees who have exhausted their paid Leave Entitlement may also qualify for more leave benefits. The New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFLBL) protects employees subject to a COVID-19 Order. This includes those who must provide care for a minor dependent child subject to a COVID-19 Order.
Finally, employees whose health has been compromised by the virus may qualify for disability benefits. Again, this includes employees who are caring for a family member suffering from a serious health condition.
Of course, conditions and exceptions apply to the New York COVID-19 Sick Leave Law.
Employee Paid Leave Rights & the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Employee benefits that must be offered during COVID-19 in NY include some named in federal legislation. New York employers with fewer than 500 employees must also understand the FFCRA. This federal law consists of two parts:
Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act
The Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act is an amendment of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It covers up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to an employee.
Eligible employees include those unable to work because they need to care for a minor child. This applies when a school or daycare closes due to the public health emergency. In addition, the employee must have worked at least 30 days with the employer.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Also, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides employees with two weeks (80 hours) of leave. This applies to employees subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order. And, it applies to local, state, and federal quarantines.
It also includes self-quarantine advised by a health care provider. Likewise, employees with COVID-19 symptoms may qualify if they seek a medical diagnosis.
As with other forms of paid leave, it takes into account individuals caring for others in quarantine. And, like the FMLA amendment, it covers employees with children whose school or daycare closed. Finally, it may cover other situations as described by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Employee Benefits that Must be Offered During COVID-19 in NY
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected legislation nationwide, statewide, and locally. New Yorkers, of course, should consult the State of New York website for official information.
As always, consultation with a professional insurance broker familiar with benefits can help. During these tough COVID-19 times, help from a pro can smooth the way.