On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a sheltering-in of all New York residents and employees of nonessential businesses. That means hundreds of thousands of New York City residents are suddenly out of work.

We don’t know the exact numbers since Trump asked state labor agencies on Wednesday to hold off on releasing unemployment claims data; instead “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels (very high, large increase)” and keep the exact figures under embargo until next Thursday, according to The New York Times.

So, then, what we do know about New York City unemployment right now? We know it is very very high. Tremendous!

If you’re one of those people laid off in New York or you are a small business feeling the strain of the virus, there’s good news: This week, New York State passed a Sick Leave Bill legislation that provides sick leave compensation and other benefits to all New York employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sick Leave Protections

The law provides the following leave protections for workers of different-sized businesses:

  • Employees at large-sized businesses – those with 100 or more employees – as well as public employees will be eligible for at least 14 days of paid sick leave. These employees would not be eligible for temporary disability insurance (TDI) or paid family leave benefits.

  • Employees at medium-sized businesses – those with 10 or fewer employees and a net income over $1 million or between 11 and 99 employees – would be eligible for a minimum of five paid sick leave days, as well as TDI and paid family leave benefits.

  • Employees who work for small businesses that have 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million would be immediately eligible for TDI, paid family leave benefits and unpaid sick leave.

  • Regardless of business size, employers can also on their own provide employees paid sick leave at any time.

The law provides the following Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits:

  • It allows for paid family leave and TDI benefits to be paid concurrently to an eligible employee upon the first full day of an unpaid period of a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.

  • An employee may not collect any benefits for Paid Family Leave in excess of $840.70, which is the current maximum weekly benefit for 2020.

  • If necessary, employees would also be able to collect additional TDI benefits to maintain their total average weekly wage, but not more than $2,043.92 per week.

  • Overall, it allows for paid family leave benefits and increased TDI benefits equal to 100% of their weekly wages, which is capped at $150,000 annually or $2884.62 per week.

  • The measure expands paid family leave eligibility to include employees who have dependent children in quarantine or isolation.

Employees who are able to work from home are not eligible for benefits.

What if you lose your employment?

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced new guidance to allow greater flexibility for states to administer their unemployment insurance (UI) programs in order to assist employees impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, states can now pay benefits when an employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work.

To help provide faster relief to individuals, the new state law also eliminates the one-week waiting period for UI claims arising out of workplace closures due to COVID-19.

To apply for UI, go here

If you are claiming your benefits in a given week, remember there are certain days that you should call depending on your last name (or call on Thurs, Fri, or Sat); details here.

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