Paid Sick Leave – Your Right to Fight COVID

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the departments remind New Yorkers about new amendments to the law and if they are sick, to stay home. One study suggested that transmission was reduced with paid sick leave.

Paid Sick Leave – Your Right to Fight COVID
November 24, 2020 – With COVID-19 increasing in New York City, the Commissioners of Health and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) are reminding New Yorkers of one critical tool in the fight against the coronavirus – paid sick leave.
“Staying home if you don’t feel well is the right thing to do and it’s your right to be paid while you do it,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “Paid sick leave is good policy and it promotes public health. If you feel sick, don’t go out.”
“While fighting to limit the spread of the flu and COVID-19, paid sick leave is more important now than ever and thanks to our recent amendments to the law, newly-hired employees can begin to take paid leave immediately with no waiting period. Paid sick leave can be used to for a broad range of uses, including to get a flu shot, recovery, quarantine, or preventative care relating to COVID-19, to care for a child whose school has been closed as a result of the pandemic, or if their workplace has been closed by an Executive Order relating to the pandemic,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Workers with any questions or who need to file a complaint can contact us at or by calling 311.”
One recent study suggested that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which granted some workers paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave due to COVID-19, helped reduce the spread of the virus. The researchers, from Cornell University and the KOF Swiss Economic Institute in Zurich, estimated that the policy prevented thousands of people from contracting COVID-19.
The NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law was recently amended to expand worker protections that will go into effect in two phases. The first phase of amendments went into effect on September 30 and eliminates the 120-day waiting period for newly-hired employees to use accrued paid safe and sick leave, among other changes. Starting January 1, 2021, employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave, an increase from the previous requirement of 40 hours. Employers with between 5-100 employees and those with four or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million must provide 40 hours of paid leave.
Currently, the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law requires employers with five or more employees and employers of domestic workers to provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave. Safe and sick leave is accrued at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year, and begins on the employee’s first day of employment. For employers who do not front-load safe and sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, employees must be able to carry over up to 40 hours of unused safe and sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year.
Employers and employees can visit or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information, including the required notice, overviews of the laws or to file a complaint. New Yorkers may also be able to take emergency sick leave to quarantine or recover from COVID-19. Both federal and state law provide additional paid sick leave specifically for those needing to quarantine or remain in isolation. Eligible workers can use this emergency leave in addition to their NYC paid sick leave. DCWP’s summary of City labor laws for employers and employees during the pandemic (Update about Workplace Laws During COVID-19) includes an overview of local, state, and federal sick leave laws.
“We recognize that being diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to the virus can be overwhelming for many New Yorkers, and the Take Care program is here to help you navigate the process with a free hotel to isolate, or free resources to safely quarantine at home,” said Director of Take Dr. Amanda Johnson. “As household transmission of COVID-19 can happen fast, no one should hesitate to separate because of concerns about missing work, and together with our partners at Health and Consumer and Worker Protection, the Take Care program wants all New Yorkers to know that the important tool of Paid Sick Leave is available to support them.”
The NYC Test & Trace Corps Take Care Program is working closely with DCWP and DOHMH to ensure every eligible New Yorker who tests positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts are connected to paid sick leave resources to ensure they have income during their quarantine period. The NYC Test & Trace Corps will make sure that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts will have the resources needed to safely separate in a hotel, free of charge, or at home to help prevent the spread of the virus. NYC Test & Trace Corps Contact Tracers can refer to the hotel program or anyone can call 1-212-COVID19 (212-268-4319) to book a room. You can find more information about Take Care at
The steps New Yorkers take to prevent COVID are also applicable to influenza. Face coverings, frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, distancing and staying home if ill can prevent the spread of influenza. Additional ways to reduce the spread of germs like influenza:
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with influenza-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like influenza.
New Yorkers can use the Health Department’s NYC Health Map, call 311, or text FLU to 877-877 to find a flu vaccination. Flu vaccine is covered by most health insurance plans without a co-pay.

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