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Michigan, New York, D.C. Bolster Paid Sick-Leave Coverage

April 9, 2020, 8:39 PM

Paid sick-leave coverage in Michigan, New York, and the District of Columbia was reinforced under measures that expanded coverage during the coronavirus crisis.

Michigan

Michigan residents who must stay home because they show symptoms of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, or because they tested positive are protected from workplace discrimination, such as discharge, discipline, or retaliation, under an executive order signed April 3 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

The order (No. 2020-36) took effect April 3.

Michigan residents who test positive for the virus or showed symptoms must stay home for seven days after they tested positive for Covid-19, or three days after symptoms were resolved and seven days after symptoms first appeared.

Those who had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus or tested positive must stay home for 14 days after exposure, except when such workers are health-care professionals or first responders.

Employers must treat employees staying at home under the order as if they were taking medical leave under the Paid Medical Leave Act. However, the amount of leave taken is not to be limited by the amount of leave accrued under the Paid Medical Leave Act. The leave may be deducted from accrued leave or may be unpaid if the employee does not have paid leave.

New York

New York employees are to receive paid sick leave under the fiscal 2021 state budget that was signed April 3 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

The state has city and county paid sick-time laws but until now has not had a statewide paid sick-time law.

The statewide paid sick-leave rules take effect and accrual starts Sept. 30, 2020, but employers may require use of accrued sick leave to commence Jan. 1, 2021.

Employers with up to four employees and up to $1 million in net income in the prior tax year are to provide 40 hours of job-protected unpaid sick leave annually, under the measure, according to the budget and an April 3 news releasefrom the Governor’s Office. The 40 hours of sick leave must be paid if such employers’ net income exceeds $1 million, though.

Employers with five to 99 employees are to provide at least 40 hours of job-protected sick leave each year, and employers with at least 100 employees are to provide at least 56 hours of paid sick leave annually, the measure said.

City or county paid sick law, such as New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act and the Westchester County paid sick-leave law, are not preempted or diminshed by the new statewide law. Rather, employers covered by New York City’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act or the Westchester County paid sick-leave law are to continue providing leave that at least meets state and local requirements.

The statewide law’s accrual rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours works is the same as the accrual rate in New York City and Westchester County’s sick-leave laws. Alternatively, employers may provide the full amount of leave annually on Jan. 1.

Unused sick leave is to carry over to the next year, but employers with fewer than 100 employees may limit use of paid sick leave to 40 hours in a year and employer with at least 100 employees may limit sick leave to 56 hours in a year.

The sick leave can be used to tend to the mental or physical health needs of the employee or the employee’s family, including use for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual offenses, or human trafficking.

Separately, the state published frequently asked questions and answers to address the Covid-19 paid sick-leave law and the expanded paid family leave law that were took effect March 18.

New York employers are to provide at least five days of job protected, paid sick leave to employees who are under a coronavirus-related mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation order, or who must care for a dependent child, under the coronavirus response bill’s provisions. The required amount of paid sick leave depends on the employer’s net income and number of employees.

District of Columbia

An expanded sick-leave measure was adopted April 7 by the Council of the District of Columbia as part of a second Covid-19 emergency-response bill.

The measure goes now to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to consider. If she signs the measure, it would remain in effect for up to 90 days.

The paid sick-leave element of the Covid-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (B23-0733) requires that employers that are not health-care providers and that have 50 to 499 employees are to offer two weeks, up to 80 hours, of emergency paid sick leave to workers for any reason under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Pub. L. 116-27), which took effect March 18.

For part-time employees, available emergency paid sick leave is to equal the usual number of hours that the employee works in a two-week period.

Reasons to take the emergency leave may include recommended self-isolation or required quarantine after exposure to or while showing Covid-19 symptoms. Reasons also may include the need to care for a family member or a child whose school or child-care facility was closed because of the virus.

Employers may require employees to exhaust any available under federal law or under the District of Columbia’s Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 law or under an employer’s policy before using emergency sick leave.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Pulfrey in Washington at cpulfrey@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Trimarchi at mtrimarchi@bloombergtax.com