Assemblywoman Buttenschon Passes Legislation to Provide Guaranteed Sick Leave Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D-Utica/Rome) announced that she helped pass legislation that provides sick leave and other benefits to all New York employees directly affected by COVID-19 (A.10153). This comes after Buttenschon, along with her Assembly colleagues, secured $40 million in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus earlier this month.

“In times of hardship, it’s critical that we come together to help protect the health and economic security of each and every New Yorker,” Buttenschon said. “To help slow the spread of COVID-19, this legislation gives employees the peace of mind that they won’t be penalized for staying home when they’re sick. Mohawk Valley families can rest assured that I’ll continue fighting for changes that look out for their safety and well-being, especially in the coming months.”

To offset current and future economic burdens families could face, the law provides comprehensive leave protections for workers:

  • 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 simply on their own provide employees paid sick leave at any time.

To ensure all employees can access the benefits they need, the law also contains the following provisions for eligible employees:

  • 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.

It should also be noted that any worker who voluntarily travels to a country subject to a Level 2 or 3 CDC warning, is deemed asymptomatic and able to work from home or has not been advised to quarantine or isolate by an authorized government entity would not be eligible for benefits or paid leave.

“The actions we took today will go a long way toward supporting New Yorkers during this difficult and scary time,” Buttenschon said. “While our state, nation and, ultimately, the world continues to fight COVID-19, I’ll always be a voice for Mohawk Valley families and champion legislation that puts their needs and concerns at the forefront.”