Employment Protections

<< Return to Coronavirus Guidance, Resources, and Warnings

UPDATED AS OF 3/01/2022

Quarantine Guidance

Vaccine Guidance

Health and Safety in the Workplace

Paid Family and Sick Leave

Unemployment Insurance

Protections Against Discrimination and Harassment

Retaliation

Quarantine Guidance


New CDC guidelines on quarantine and isolation periods depend on an individual’s vaccination status, whether they have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19, and whether or not they are still exhibiting symptoms. Specific guidelines for every situation can be found on the CDC’s website at this link.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for 5 days.
    • After 5 days, if you are asymptomatic or your symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours) you may return to work, but you should wear a mask around others for the following 5 days.
    • If you still have a fever after 5 days, continue isolating at home until your fever resolves.
  • If you have been exposed to COVID-19, get a test for COVID-19.
    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get a test immediately and stay home.
    • If you are asymptomatic and are fully vaccinated (have received the booster shot, completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months, OR completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months), then you should wear a mask around others for 10 days, and test 5 days after the date of exposure.
    • If you are asymptomatic and not fully vaccinated (are unvaccinated, completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago without receiving the booster, or completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and without receiving the booster), then you should:
      • stay home for 5 days
      • test 5 days after exposure, and
      • wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

New emergency CDC guidelines depend on a health care worker’s vaccination status, whether they are still exhibiting symptoms, and whether they have since tested negative. Guidelines can be found on the CDC's website at this link.

  • Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.
  • Healthcare workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.

***Please note that a healthcare worker must be asymptomatic and test negative to end their isolation, although the new guidelines give some discretion to healthcare employers in that “isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.”

 


It depends on the size of your employer. A summary breakdown is below, and you may see New York State’s full policy at this link.

  • Employees of small employers may use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits.
  • Employees of medium employers are entitled to at least 5 paid sick leave days and may thereafter use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits.
  • Employees of large employers are entitled to at least 14 paid sick leave days.

Small employers have 10 or fewer employees and a business net annual income less than $1 million. Medium employers have between 11 and 99 employees or have between 1 and 10 employees and a business net annual income greater than $1 million. Large employers have 100 or more employees.

Individuals should first obtain an order of quarantine or isolation by following the instructions at this link. Individuals who receive state orders of quarantine or isolation or are sent home on an employer’s order of quarantine or isolation, are entitled to entitled to job protection and the above sick leave. The state law protections do not apply to those who are under quarantine or self-isolation at home but are not symptomatic and are able to work remotely.

Vaccine Guidance


All healthcare workers in New York State must be vaccinated. The mandate includes personnel at facilities regulated by the Department of Health, including all hospitals and nursing homes as well as employees who work in certain facilities offering health care to individuals served by the Office of Mental Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

For more information, review this release.


Yes. New vaccine requirements for NYC workers and businesses went into effect on 12/27/21 and can be found on the New York City website at this link. The vaccine requirement applies to any non-governmental entity that employs more than one worker in New York City and/or any non-governmental entity that maintains or operates a workplace in New York City.

Businesses must complete and publicly display a certificate affirming they are in compliance with the vaccine mandate. The certificate may be found at this link.

This link contains frequently asked questions about the NYC vaccine mandate and has additional helpful information.

Small business owners can call the Small Business Services hotline at 888-SBS-4-NYC for assistance in implementing the mandate.


An employee who does not get vaccinated due to a disability (covered by the ADA) or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance (covered by Title VII) may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that does not pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. Examples of accommodations include: wearing a face mask, working at a social distance from coworkers or non-employees, working a modified shift, getting periodic tests for COVID-19, teleworking, or accepting a reassignment.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


Employees who are not vaccinated because of pregnancy may be entitled to adjustments to keep working, if the employer makes modifications or exceptions for other employees. These modifications may include telework, changes to work schedules or assignments, and leave to the extent they are provided for other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


Any decision as to entitlement to Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits is made on a case-by-case basis by the New York State Department of Labor (DOL). Any worker who is separated from their employment may apply for UI benefits and DOL will determine their entitlement to receive benefits. Click here for instructions for applying for UI benefits.


Yes. Employers must give employees up to 4 hours of paid leave per COVID-19 vaccine injection. Leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay and cannot be charged against other leave accruals. The COVID-19 vaccine law remains in effect until December 31, 2022.

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has issued guidance on this law. The key takeaways are:

  • Use of Leave and Employee Coverage: Paid leave is only available for an employee’s own receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. The law does not provide leave to allow an employee to assist a relative or other person to receive a vaccine.
  • Amount of Leave: Employees are entitled to up to four house of leave per injection.
  • Retroactive Application: The law does not create any retroactive benefit rights. Therefore, only employees who were vaccinated on or after March 12, 2021 are eligible for paid leave. However, nothing in the law prevents employers from voluntarily providing employees with such benefits retroactively.
  • Notice and Documentation Requirements: The law does not prevent an employer from requiring advance notice or proof of vaccination in order to use this leave.

Yes. An employer may ask about vaccination status and request documentation or confirmation that an employee received the vaccine from a third party.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


Yes. Federal law allows employers to ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Your employer is required to keep this information confidential.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.

Health and Safety in the Workplace


Yes. On February 10, 2022 Governor Hochul lifted statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine requirement but permitted businesses and local governments to implement their own mask and vaccination policies. The mask mandate remains in effect for all health care settings regulated by the Department of Health and other related state agencies, nursing homes, adult care facilities, correctional facilities, detention centers, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, public transit and transportation hubs, trains, planes, and airports

For more information, read Governor Hochul’s announcement at this link.


Yes. EEOC guidance states that an employer may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before initially permitting them to enter the workplace and/or periodically to determine if their presence in the workplace poses a direct threat to others.

Certain industries, such as nursing homes, may be required to administer COVID-19 tests to employees.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration directs businesses to provide face coverings or surgical masks to unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers at no cost.


CDC Guidance recommends that employers inform employees of their possible close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with infected individuals, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The same CDC Guidance also requires that the employer “Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection, . . . [and] enhanced cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility.” In particular, CDC Disinfection Recommendations explain that the employer should “Close off areas used by the person who is sick and do not use those areas until after cleaning and disinfecting. Wait as long as possible (at least several hours) before you clean and disinfect. Open outside doors and windows and use ventilating fans or HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) settings to increase air circulation in the area. Use products from EPA List N according to the instructions on the product label. Wear a mask and gloves while cleaning and disinfecting. Focus on the immediate areas occupied by the person who is sick or diagnosed with Covid-19 unless they have already been cleaned and disinfected . . . If less than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, clean and disinfect the space. If more than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, cleaning is enough. You may choose to also disinfect depending on certain conditions or everyday practices required by your facility.


Yes. Federal law allows employers to ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat. Your employer is required to keep this information confidential.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


Yes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that temperature checks and mandatory viral tests for COVID-19 are job-related and consistent with business necessity. An employer may not, however, require than an employee be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


Yes. Employers may ask employees physically entering the workplace if they have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with the virus. Employers may require you to stay home if you have tested positive for or have symptoms of COVID-19 to protect the health of others. However, employers are generally not allowed to ask these questions of employees who are teleworking or not interacting with others.

See the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s FAQ at this link for more information.


It depends on the size of your employer. A summary breakdown is below, and you may see New York State's full policy at this link.

  • Employees of small employers may use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits.
  • Employees of medium employers are entitled to at least 5 paid sick leave days and may thereafter use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits.
  • Employees of large employers are entitled to at least 14 paid sick leave days.

Small employers have 10 or fewer employees and a business net annual income less than $1 million. Medium employers have between 11 and 99 employees or have between 1 and 10 employees and a business net annual income greater than $1 million. Large employers have 100 or more employees.

Individuals should first obtain an order of quarantine or isolation by following the instructions at this link. Individuals who receive state orders of quarantine or isolation, or are sent home on an employer’s order of quarantine or isolation, are entitled to entitled to job protection and the above sick leave, depending on employer size. The state law protections do not apply to those who are under quarantine or self-isolation at home but are not symptomatic and are able to work remotely.


Yes. Individuals whose minor, dependent child is under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation may be able to take Paid Family Leave for the duration of the quarantine/isolation and receive 67% of their average weekly wage rate up to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70.

For instruction on how to obtain an order of quarantine or isolation, click here. For more information on state paid family leave, please call the PFL Helpline at (844) 337-6303 or visit the Paid Family Leave for Family Care website at this link.

You may also claim general state or local paid sick leave benefits.

New York State paid sick leave law:Effective January 1, 2021, New York’s paid sick leave law requires employers with five or more employees or net income of more than $1 million to provide paid sick leave to employees and for employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or less to provide unpaid sick leave to employees. This new law is in addition to the New York State provisions already in effect providing emergency paid sick time due to COVID-19. On September 30, 2020, covered employees in New York State began to accrue leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. See this site for more information. The amount of paid sick leave depends on employer size. This means that:

  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 5-99 employees, and employers with 0-4 employees with net income in excess of $1 million must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 0-4 employees whose net income is $1 million or less must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.

New York City and Westchester local paid sick leave laws:Most employees in New York City and Westchester have up to five days of paid sick leave per year if they work for an employer that has more than five employees or if the employee is a domestic worker. Employees accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked and most employees can take sick time after they have worked for the employer for 120 days (employees in Westchester can begin taking sick time after 90 days of employment). Employees must be able to carry over at least 40 hours of accrued sick time year to year.

Employees should request leave from their employers. An employee may be required to provide reasonable notice (but no more than seven days) only if the use of sick time is foreseeable. Otherwise, for unexpected medical issues, no advance notice is required, but an employer may require that notice be given as soon as practicable. An employer may not require employees to provide documentation from medical professionals about the necessity of sick leave unless the employee is out for more than three consecutive days.

  • For more information, NYC residents may follow this link or contact the Department of Consumer Affairs by calling 311.
  • NYC residents click here to file a complaint.
  • Westchester residents can contact the Department of Consumer Protection at (914) 995-2155.

No. The mandatory provisions federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on December 31, 2020. However, if you believe that your employer failed to comply with the FFCRA while it was in effect from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, you may file a retroactive complaint.

The FFCRA guaranteed two weeks of paid sick leave for employees quarantining due to COVID-19 diagnosis or symptoms, two weeks of paid sick leave for employees caring for individuals with COVID-19 or minor children experiencing school closure, and up to 10 weeks of family and medical leave for employees caring for minor children experiencing school closure. More information about the FFCRA may be found on the federal Department of Labor’s website at this link.


Under federal, state, and local law, employers must provide a reasonable accommodation for employees if, as a result of a long- or short-term disability, they need an accommodation to perform their jobs. Reasonable accommodations can include telecommuting, staggering your schedule, or taking leave. Short-term disabilities protected under the anti-discrimination laws includes severe but temporary illnesses. Employees should request an accommodation from their employers. If your accommodation request is denied, you may file a complaint with federal, state, or city office. See the section on Protections against Discrimination and Harassment below for more information regarding filing a complaint.


No. An employer is not required to accommodate an employee without a disability based on the disability-related needs of a family member or other person with whom they are associated.


Both federal and state law prohibit retaliation, including discipline, firing, or otherwise discriminating against an individual, for taking sick or family leave.

If you have been retaliated against for taking or requesting emergency leave, you should contact the Attorney General’s Office using the Labor Bureau’s complaint form. You may also email labor.bureau@ag.ny.gov or call (212) 416-8700.


Employees who become ill or injured off-the-job may be eligible for temporary disability benefits. Disability benefits are paid at 50% of an employee’s average weekly wage with a maximum of $170 per week.

For more information on temporary disability benefits, contact the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board by phone at (877) 632-4996 or via e-mail at Claims@wcb.ny.gov or visit this site.


Employees who become ill or injured due to job related activities may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation will cover all health care and travel related to the illness or injury and weekly benefits of two-thirds of average weekly pay rate multiplied by the percentage of disability with a maximum payment of $1063.05 per week.

For information on workers’ compensation insurance and how to file a claim, please visit this site. Employees should apply for benefits with the Workers’ Compensation Board. Workers’ Compensation claims may be filed at this link. You may call (877) 632-4996 for questions or assistance.


Most employees in New York can take 12 weeks of partially paid leave to take care of a family member with a serious health condition. Employees will be compensated at 67% of their average weekly earnings with a maximum weekly allowance of $1,068.36 per week.

Full-time employees may start taking leave after 26 weeks of starting work and part-time employees may start taking leave after 175 days of work.

Please note that employees generally may not use Paid Family Leave for their own medical conditions.

If you have been unlawfully denied family leave, or for more information, please call the Paid Family Leave Helpline at (844) 337-6303 or visit the Paid Family Leave website.


Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), employees are guaranteed 12 weeks of job-protected leave within a 12-month period if they are sick or need to take care of a sick family member. To be eligible, employees must work for a private sector employer with 50 or more employees, or a school or public agency for at least a year. Family members include spouses, children, and parents. Employees may take this leave on a part-time or intermittent basis. Employers must continue to provide health insurance during the leave of absence, although employees may be asked to make employee contributions.

If you have been unlawfully denied FMLA leave, or for more information, please call the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division at (866)-487-9243, or visit this site for more information regarding federal FMLA.

New York State Paid Family Leave conveys a similar set of benefits with fewer eligibility restrictions. Employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment. Employees with a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after 175 days worked. The New York State Paid Family Leave Act ensures employees up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave at 67% of their average weekly wage. For more information or to file a complaint, visit the New York Paid Family Leave website or call the PFL Helpline at (844)-337-6303.

Unemployment Insurance


Employees may be entitled to unemployment insurance payments for 26 weeks if they are laid off on a temporary or permanent basis through no fault of their own. The amount of benefits employees receive depends on their average weekly rate, with a minimum of $116 per week and a maximum of $504 per week. In order to qualify for weekly benefits, employees must continue to look for work.

Employees should apply for unemployment insurance with the New York Department of Labor immediately after they are laid off. To file unemployment insurance claims please visit the NYS Department of Labor. You may file a claim online, or you can call the Telephone Claim Center at (888) 209-8124. Once you file a claim for benefits, you must also claim weekly benefits (also known as “certifying for benefits”) for each week you are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements. You can claim your weekly benefits each week online, or by calling (888) 581-5812.

For more information about the unemployment insurance claim process and eligibility, please visit the NYS Department of Labor claimant handbook.


Yes. the New York Department of Labor permits individuals to work up to 7 days per week without losing full unemployment benefits for that week. Individuals who work 30 hours or fewer and earn $504 or less in gross pay excluding earnings from self-employment remain eligible for partial unemployment benefits.

See the following link for further information on how this impacts weekly certifications and guidance for claiming partial benefits: Partial Unemployment Eligibilit


Independent contractors are ineligible for unemployment insurance, however many employees are misclassified as independent contractors because the employer has sufficient control over their schedule, pay, and day-to-day work conditions. Thus, individuals who are classified as independent contractors may still file successful unemployment insurance claims.

The New York Department of Labor encourages any who are unsure to file a claim. Any worker that experiences loss in work may apply for unemployment insurance with the New York Department of Labor at this link.


If you believe you are the victim of identity theft related to unemployment insurance, including someone filing a false claim using your personal information, you can report the fraud to the New York State Department of Labor by submitting an online form.

In addition, you can take steps to protect your credit by filing an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission.


Individuals whose hours of employement are reduced or who are terminated for any reason other than gross misconduct may be eligible for continuation coverage of health care benefits that would otherwise be terminated. Individuals who are eligible for other health care plans or Medicare are not eligible for this subsidy. For more information about eligibility, alternative programs, and the application process, review these Frequently Asked Questions.

Protections against Discrimination and Harassment


Federal, state, and local law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for a disability or a perceived disability, including a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.


Employees may file a complaint with the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Employees whose workplaces employ more than 15 people may also file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Complaints with the EEOC must be filed within 300 days of the discriminatory incident. You may also call (800) 669-4000.

Employees may file a complaint with the State Division of Human Rights. Complaints with the SDHR must be filed within 1 year. You may also call (888) 392-3644.

Employees who work in New York City and whose employer has employed four or more people in the past year may file a complaint with the City Commission on Human Rights at this link. Complaints must be filed within one year of the last alleged wrongful act. You may also call (212) 416-0197.


Yes. All federal, state, and local anti-harassment laws still apply whether or not work is conducted within the four corners of the job site or within your own home. You can report workplace harassment to federal, state, and city agencies.

  • To report workplace harassment to the federal EEOC, visit this site.
  • To report workplace harassment to the New York State Human Rights Commission, visit this site.
  • To report workplace harassment to the New York City Human Rights Commission, visit this site.

Retaliation


Employers may not retaliate against you for exercising your right to paid or unpaid sick or family leave, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, complaining about health and safety conditions, or requesting an accommodation for a disability. That means that you may not be fired, demoted, or otherwise harassed for exercising your rights.

New York’s whistleblower protection law additionally prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who disclose or threaten to disclose any employer action that violates the law or endangers public health or safety. If you believe you have been retaliated against for exercising any of your rights above, you should file a complaint with the Labor Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office, email labor.bureau@ag.ny.gov, or call (212) 416-8700.


Yes. Healthcare services professionals who disclose or threaten to disclose information to their supervisors or to the public about the quality of care patients receive are protected from retaliation.

Healthcare professionals with concerns about patient care during the COVID-19 outbreak should contact the New York Department of Health at this link.

Healthcare employees with concerns about retaliation for reporting patient care issues should contact the New York Attorney General’s Office at this link.