On April 19, 2020, the New York City Commissioner for Health and Mental Hygiene signed an Order requiring isolation of persons that meet the qualifications for mandatory isolation due to COVID-19 in accordance with the guidance issued by New York State Department of Health (NY DOH). The Order effectively creates a process by which employees who test positive for, or have symptoms of, coronavirus (COVID-19) can self-serve to receive the documentation required under New York State’s Quarantine Paid Sick Leave Law (NY Quarantine Leave) and claim paid sick leave from their employer. This Order assists both employees impacted by COVID-19 as well as the overwhelmed local departments of health by easing the burdens of requesting a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation from the agency.

For more information about NY Quarantine Leave, please visit our blog post.

Summary of the Order:

Under the Commissioner’s Order, employees impacted by COVID-19 will be able to qualify for paid sick leave through the NY Quarantine Leave law which provides immediate job-protected sick leave and assistance to any “employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order to COVID-19” (“Quarantine Order”).  The NY Quarantine Sick Leave law also amends the New York Paid Family Leave law (“PFL”) and the Short Term Disability provisions of the New York Workers Compensation law (“STD”) to provide benefits for employees who are subject to a quarantine or isolation order but are only eligible for unpaid sick leave or have exhausted paid sick leave under the law.

Employees will be able to follow the instructions provided in the Commissioner’s Order to satisfy the documentation requirements under NY Quarantine Sick Leave.

Who Does the Order Apply to?

The Order applies to employees who:

  1. Are applying for paid sick leave from their employer under NY Quarantine Sick Leave;
  2. Live or work in NYC; and
  3. Currently meet or have previously met the qualifications for mandatory isolation by the New York City Department of Health (NYC DOH), the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to COVID-19. The qualifications for a mandatory isolation include:
    1. testing positive for COVID-19, or
    1. having symptoms of COVID-19 and were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or who had symptoms of COVID-19.

Who does the Order not Apply to?

The Order does not apply to an employee who is asymptomatic but must quarantine because they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or a person who is experiencing or who has recently experienced symptoms of COVID-19. These employees should contact the NYC DOH to follow the process of requesting an individual Quarantine Order if they wish to claim NY Quarantine Sick Leave.

It is also important to note that employees are only eligible for NY Quarantine Sick Leave when they are scheduled to work but are unable to work (either on site or remotely via telework) because they are subject to an order of quarantine or isolation. For example, an asymptomatic employee who is able to work from home is not eligible for paid sick leave based on being subject to a Quarantine Order.

How Can an Employee Use the Order to Qualify for NYS Quarantine Paid Sick Leave?

Employees must first determine which category of the Order applies to them: health care worker, essential employee, or nonessential employee. The Order provides instructions in a corresponding Appendix for employees based on which of the three categories applies to them. For more information about these categories, please review the Frequently Asked Questions, dated April 23, 2020, concerning the Order.

Employees must gather the information and documentation described in the Appendix that applies to their category and submit it along with a completed copy of the Appendix to their employer. Each Appendix requires the employee to affirm that the statements made in the Appendix concerning the employee’s health status are true and accurate to the employee’s knowledge.

Who is an Essential Employee?

Essential employees include utility operators; skilled manufacturers and those supporting supply chains; transportation infrastructure, law enforcement, and emergency response personnel; and essential retail employees working at grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies. Visit esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026 for a complete list.

Employer Considerations:

Employers in New York City should be aware of this Order and understand that eligible employees who submit an applicable Appendix and required documentation are considered to have provided submitted the necessary documentation to qualify under NYS Quarantine Paid Sick Leave.

Additional Resources:

NYC Department of Health

Order of Commissioner of Health for Isolation – FAQs

Ny.gov – Paid Family Leave for COVID-19

The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.