Under New York State law, employers are required to provide guaranteed sick leave if an employee is unable to work or care for a minor dependent child subject to a quarantine order. The number of unpaid or paid days an employer is obligated to cover varies based on the number of employees. Prior to the latest COVID-variant, employees were required to obtain an order of quarantine or isolation from a public health agency; however, with the most recent Omicron wave, New York State abandoned contact tracing efforts and no longer issues orders of quarantine or isolation and instead allows employees to “self-attest” that they have tested positive for COVID or are subject to quarantine or isolation. New York State has released updated guidance for employers as they manage COVID sick leave to clarify that employees cannot qualify for sick leave more than three orders of quarantine or isolation. The second and third orders must be based on a positive COVID test, and the employee must submit proof of the positive test from a licensed medical provider or testing facility. If the employer provided the COVID test, then an employee is not obligated to submit documentation. NFIB will continue to provide updates as the COVID sick leave law continues to evolve with guidance changing frequently.
New York State has also made changes to the model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan under the NY HERO Act. Effective February 10, 2022, the model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan clarifies that if indoor areas do not have a mask or vaccine requirement, then employees are not required to wear face coverings. The plan does recommend that unvaccinated individuals wear face coverings and adhere to CDC or state public health guidance. The masking requirements remain in effect for schools, public transit, congregate care facilities, healthcare facilities, and other sensitive settings. The NY HERO Act, passed by the New York State Legislature earlier this year, requires ALL EMPLOYERS to adopt an airborne infectious disease prevention plan. The plans must be implemented when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health. The Commissioner of Health has continued to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to public health until March 17, 2022.