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Repeat Quarantines Require Repeat Employer-Provided Leave in NYS

Posted by [email protected] on Feb. 5, 2021  /   0

Repeat Quarantines Require Repeat Employer-Provided Leave in NYS

By Tracey Levy

As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many of us have come to recognize that we can be subject to orders of quarantine or isolation based on a range of circumstances, many of which can occur more than once.  That possibility left open the question, however, whether employers’ obligation to provide COVID-19 leave is limited to a single 14-day period, or whether there is a recurring obligation to provide the leave (which includes salary continuation obligations for five days for employers with 11 to 99 employees, and 10 business days for employers with 100 or more employees).  New guidance issued by the New York State Department of Labor (“NYS DOL”) addresses that open question, and takes the position that yes, employers may be required to provide employees with more than one period of COVID-19 leave.  In fact, the NYS DOL set three 14-day periods as the maximum obligation to provide any given employee with COVID-19 leave.

The first period of COVID-19 leave may be for any COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation order issued by the state.  The second and third periods must be predicated on the employee personally having tested positive for COVID-19, either at the end of a quarantine or isolation period, or at some point subsequent to the initial quarantine period.  Employers are authorized, per the NYS DOL guidance, to ask employees to provide proof of the positive test result.

The guidance further provides that, if an employer mandates that an employee remain out of work due to actual or potential exposure to COVID-19 (from any source) when that employee is not otherwise subject to a quarantine or isolation order, then the employer has to continue to pay the employee’s regular salary until either (a) the employer requires the employee to stay away from work or (b) such time as the employee actually becomes subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.  If and when the employee is subject to a quarantine/isolation order, the clock will then begin running on the mandatory New York COVID-19 sick leave period, but the period of paid leave preceding issuance of the order will not count as part of the two-week COVID-19-leave period. 

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