Employees May Take Leave for Three Periods of Quarantine or Isolation

Employers who prohibit employees not in quarantine or isolation from coming to work for COVID-19 exposure reasons must pay them their regular rate, according to new guidance issued by the New York Department of Labor (NYDOL). The Jan. 20, 2021, guidance also states that employees may take leave for three periods of quarantine or isolation, among other points.

In March 2020, New York state enacted a law providing job-protected leave for employees under a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order. Employee payment during the leave depends on employer size and income.

The NYDOL’s new guidance on the COVID-19 leave law includes the following key points:

  • Employees who return to work after completing quarantine or isolation and then test positive must be provided COVID-19 leave, even if they have already taken COVID-19 leave during an earlier quarantine or isolation period.
  • Employees who test positive at the end of quarantine or isolation may not report to work and must be allowed COVID-19 leave. However, it is not recommended that employees be tested to discontinue quarantine or isolation. (With the exception of nursing home staff.)
  • Employees not under a quarantine or isolation order, whose employers nonetheless bar them from work due to COVID-19 exposure (or possible exposure) must be paid their regular rate until they return to work or enter quarantine or isolation. Notably, the guidance includes this point despite the COVID-19 leave law’s requirement of leave only for employees under a quarantine or isolation order.
  • Employees may only take leave for three quarantine or isolation orders, and the second two leave periods must be supported by positive tests.

Previous Articles on this topic:

New York State Paid Sick Leave Goes Into Effect Sept. 30, 2020

New York Issues New Guidance on COVID-19 Leave