As of January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required by federal law to provide paid sick leave to employees for reasons related to COVID-19. The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which mandated such leaves, expired as of December 31, 2020, and was not extended.
The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA 2021), enacted on December 27, 2020, allows private employers with fewer than 500 employees to voluntarily provide employees with paid leave under FFCRA. Employers may take payroll tax credits for such payments from January 1 through March 31, 2021.
Employers in New York and New Jersey must provide leave and benefits to certain employees for reasons related to COVID-19 under their state laws.
NJ COVID-19 Leave Laws: In March 2020, New Jersey expanded its Earned Sick Leave Law (ESSL), Temporary Disability Insurance and Family Leave Insurance laws and Family Leave Act to provide leave and/or benefits to employees for reasons related to COVID-19. Now that FFCRA has expired, NJ employees who want to take sick leave for COVID-19 reasons may use their ESLL paid sick leave time and any other time off provided by their employer. Eligible employees (who work for employers with 30 or more employees) may also take unpaid job-protected leave under the NJ Family Leave Act for reasons related to COVID-19, and may be eligible for partial wage replacement during such leave under NJ’s Temporary Disability Insurance and Family Leave Insurance programs.
NYS COVID-19 Leave Law: Under the NYS emergency paid sick leave law, employees who cannot work while subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 may be eligible to take job-protected paid sick leave (depending on the size and net income) of their employer, disability insurance leave and NYS Paid Family Leave. The law excludes employees who are subject to quarantine or isolation due to non-work related travel for more than 24 hours to a state other than a contiguous state.
Employees also may be eligible to take NYS Paid Family Leave if they cannot work because they are (i) caring for a dependent child who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation; or (ii) caring for a family member who has COVID-19.
Employers should note that the NYS emergency paid sick leave law provides leave and benefits in addition to NYS’s Paid Sick Leave law and NYC’s amended Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law), both of which are discussed below.
NYS Paid Sick Leave Law Fully in Effect as of January 1, 2021: NYS’s Paid Sick Leave law (“PSL”) went fully into effect as of January 1, 2021. Employers in NYS must comply with the PSL’s requirements regarding the accrual and use of safe and sick leave time, carryover of unused time, notice and recordkeeping, and its anti-retaliation provisions.
In early December, NYS issued proposed regulations in connection with the PSL. We will be tracking those regulations, which are not yet finalized.
NYC’s Amended Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law Fully in Effect as of January 1, 2021: Effective September 30, 2020, NYC amended its Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law) to conform to the new NYS Paid Sick Leave Law. Parts of the amended law went into effect immediately and parts were not scheduled to go into effect until January 1, 2021. Now that January 1st has passed, the amended law is fully in effect.