The enactment of paid sick leave laws began as a state and local employment law trend roughly a decade ago, gaining substantial momentum in the mid-2010’s.  Amidst this wave, New York City adopted a paid sick leave law in April 2014.  The City Council later amended the law – in May 2018 – to provide employees with “safe leave” as well.  And in 2019, Westchester County enacted its own paid sick and safe leave law.

Now, more than six years after NYC adopted the original iteration of its paid sick leave law, New York State has enacted its own statewide paid sick leave law (NYPSL), which takes effect on September 30, 2020.  Principally, NYPSL provides paid time off for certain sickness-related reasons, with the specific amount of time varying based on employer size and net income.  Below is a summary of the new law’s key provisions.
Continue Reading Everything you need to know about New York’s forthcoming statewide paid sick leave law

The Empire State recently announced strict measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19 by individuals returning to New York from states experiencing a spike in cases.  Specifically, on June 24 Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 205 (EO 205), which requires individuals returning to New York from a state that meets either of the following conditions to quarantine for a period of 14 days:

  • a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or
  • higher than a 10 percent test positivity rate over a seven day rolling average.

This new order comes in the wake of a recent upsurge in cases around the country and currently covers travelers returning from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas.  However, it is expected that this list will continue to grow, as more states see an uptick of new cases.  Any violation of a required quarantine may be deemed a violation of EO 205, resulting in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
Continue Reading New York state further restricts eligibility for its paid quarantine leave

On May 1, 2020, Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At Large) announced a proposed bill, co-sponsored by Helen Gym (At Large) and Bobby Henon (6th District), that would increase the amount of paid sick leave available to workers who continue to physically report to their jobs during a “public health emergency.” This bill comes on the heels of much outcry from state and local officials hoping to address the fact that millions of workers have been excluded from federal emergency paid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act create certain emergency sick time provisions for workers, these statutes exclude many employees. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 3 million workers have been excluded the law’s exemptions. The Brooks bill would certainly address these shortcomings.
Continue Reading Philadelphia councilmembers propose bill to increase paid sick leave for many federally excluded employees

On May 12, 2020, Oakland passed an emergency ordinance joining Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose in requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees for COVID-19-related reasons.  Codified as Code of Ordinances Chapter 5.94 and known as the “Protecting Workers and Communities During a Pandemic – COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance” (Emergency Paid Sick Leave), Oakland’s new paid sick leave requirements aim to fill the gaps in the coverage provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).

Covered employers

Unlike the FFCRA, which only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, Oakland’s new paid sick leave requirements apply to all private employers, regardless of the number of employees, but subject to the exemptions noted below.  Covered employers must pay the Emergency Paid Sick Leave payment by no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period after the employee takes Emergency Paid Sick Leave, and no more than 14 days after the employee takes Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
Continue Reading Oakland passes COVID-19 paid sick leave

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a substantial impact on the U.S. workplace. We have prepared a series of FAQs compiled based on some of the more common questions that clients with California-based employees have posed to us over roughly the past six weeks.

These FAQs are general and high-level

Earlier this month, the US Department of Labor (DOL) promulgated regulations to implement the recently enacted Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), both of which are part of the broader Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations address several key issues that were unclear in the original statutory language. Still, as explained below, several critical questions surrounding the EPSLA and EFMLEA remain unanswered.

Employer Coverage Issues under the FFCRA

Subject to certain eligibility requirements, the plain language of the FFCRA requires employers to furnish EPSLA and EFMLEA leave to their workers if the business has fewer than 500 employees in the United States. The regulations make clear, however, that the determination of whether an employer falls under this threshold must be made on a rolling basis at the time a particular employee requests leave (rather than, for instance, as of the FFCRA’s April 1 effective date).

This approach will require employers to take a “snapshot” of employee headcount at different intervals to assess the paid-time-off and leave entitlements of particular employees. And the regulations in fact even recognize that the approach may result in employees of the same entity having different paid-time-off and leave rights depending on when the employee requests leave. For example, a company with 499 or fewer employees in April may need to grant leave to employees, but if its payroll is over 500 in May, it can deny a request for FFCRA leave at that time.

The regulations also clarify that, for purposes of determining employee headcount under the FFCRA, employers must include all full-time and part-time employees, employees on leave, and day laborers supplied by a temporary agency. If the company is a “joint” or “integrated” employer under previous DOL standards, the employees of all entities must be counted together. The regulations also clarify that independent contractors do not count towards the 500-employee threshold (although it remains to be seen how this concept applies to workers who are excluded from the FFCRA calculation but are misclassified as independent contractors). See 28 C.F.R. § 826.40. The DOL further clarifies that employees who have been temporarily laid off or furloughed, and not subsequently reemployed, do not count toward the 500-employee threshold for determining employer eligibility under the FFCRA. See 29 C.F.R. § 826.40(a)(1)(iii).Continue Reading DOL issues new guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

On April 16, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring employers to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for food sector workers.  The executive order is effective immediately and extends paid sick leave requirements to cover not only employees, but also independent contractors working in the food sector.

Covered employers

The executive order applies to “hiring entities,” defined as private companies that have 500 or more employees in the United States.  It specifically includes any “Delivery Network Company” (a business entity that maintains an internet website or mobile application used to facilitate delivery services for the sale of local products) and “Transportation Network Company” (an organization operating in California that provides prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers using a personal vehicle).
Continue Reading California requires expanded COVID-19 paid sick leave for food sector workers

On April 7, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the Public Health Emergency Leave Ordinance (PHELO) to expand paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  That ordinance was not signed and enacted by Mayor Breed, and the Board of Supervisors has now passed an amended version of the ordinance (Amended PHELO), on April 14, 2020, which is awaiting the mayor’s signature.  Although the Amended PHELO is substantially similar to the previous version, it includes three key changes in that it (1) expands the definition of covered employees; (2) clarifies the calculation and availability of leave; and (3) modifies leave guaranteed to health care providers and emergency responders.
Continue Reading San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves amended paid sick leave ordinance in response to COVID-19 pandemic

On April 7, 2020, San Francisco, California and San Jose, California passed emergency ordinances to expand paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave benefits.  The ordinances cover gaps under federal law by expanding leave benefits under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), which is limited to employers with fewer than 500 employees, to employers with more than 500 employees.  Under the ordinances, employers must provide to each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work or telework because:

  1. The employee is subject to quarantine or isolation by federal, state, or local order due to COVID-19, or is caring for someone who is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19.
  2. The employee is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 or is caring for someone who is so advised by a health care provider.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for a minor child because a school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.

Continue Reading San Francisco and San Jose expand paid sick leave in response to COVID-19 outbreak

On April 7, 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti suspended a paid sick leave ordinance by the Los Angeles City Council and signed an emergency order providing for mandatory paid sick leave for many large employers with essential employees working in the City of Los Angeles (L.A. Supplemental PSL), effective immediately.

Existing Los Angeles City paid sick leave laws already surpassed California state law mandates by providing twice the minimum allotment under state law. Under the existing Los Angeles City paid sick leave ordinance, employers were already required to provide employees with at least 48 hours (six days) of paid sick leave or one hour for every 30 hours worked.

The recent enactment of the federal paid sick leave provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) applies only to companies with fewer than 500 employees. The L.A. Supplemental PSL now seeks to “bridge the gap” by creating mandatory paid sick leave for the Los Angeles employees of many larger employers who are not bound by the FFCRA.
Continue Reading Los Angeles emergency order mandates supplemental paid sick leave for large employers