The New York COVID-19 leave law requires that an employee seeking paid sick leave and/or benefits under New York’s paid family leave and disability insurance programs have an individualized mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.
Quarantine and isolation orders should be obtained as appropriate from the state of New York, the Department of Health, a local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order. The New York Paid Family Leave program updated its FAQs to make clear that an employee who is seeking compensation in the form of paid family leave and/or disability benefits during a leave necessitated by quarantine or isolation must “submit an order from your local health department indicating you or your minor child is under a precautionary or mandatory order of quarantine or isolation.”
What can employees do if they cannot immediately obtain an appropriate order from a government agency?
Health care provider attestations can serve as temporary placeholders for health department orders. For employees who cannot immediately obtain an order, the New York Paid Family Leave program will accept an attestation from the employee’s (or the employee’s minor-dependent child’s) health care provider indicating that the employee or minor-dependent child meets the criteria for an order of isolation or quarantine. For example, an employee would meet the qualifications for mandatory isolation if the employee has tested positive for COVID-19 or, if testing is not available, the employee has COVID-19 symptoms and has had contact with a known COVID-19 case. An employee who submits a health care provider attestation is still required to provide an individualized order as soon as it is made available.
The requirements for issuance of an order of mandatory isolation, order of precautionary quarantine, and order of mandatory quarantine are addressed individually in the “Obtaining a Quarantine Order” section of the FAQs as well as in the Guidance For Obtaining An Order For Mandatory Or Precautionary Quarantine.
General stay-at-home orders will not suffice for New York COVID-19 paid sick leave, PFL or DBL benefits. The New York guidance does not address other potential avenues for obtaining a qualifying order of quarantine or isolation from any of the other government entities listed in the law. However, the absence of discussion of Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order, which has been extended through at least April 15, reinforces that orders imposing generally applicable preventative social distancing measures are not sufficient to support an employee’s request for paid leave or benefits under New York’s law.
Are there special provisions where the quarantine and isolation order resulted from the employee’s personal travel?
The new law does not allow an employee to use New York COVID-19 paid sick leave or obtain DBL or PFL benefits if:
- The employee’s quarantine or isolation order is a result of the employee’s personal (non-employment related) travel to a country for which the CDC had issued a level two or three travel health notice; and
- The employee was provided notice of “the travel health notice and the limitations of this subdivision prior to such travel.”
Under these circumstances, the employee may use any company-provided PTO until the termination of the quarantine order or is entitled to take unpaid sick leave if the employee does not have company-provided paid leave available.