States and Cities Enact COVID Paid Leave Requirements

Since late March, a few states and cities have enacted temporary requirements (most expiring at the end of the public health emergency) for employers to provide paid leave for purposes related to COVID-19.

Since late March, a few states and cities have enacted temporary requirements (most expiring at the end of the public health emergency) for employers to provide paid leave for purposes related to COVID-19. These new state and local requirements add to employers’ growing administrative concerns with paid leave policies.

For more details, see below:

  • California is requiring employers to provide 80 hours of paid leave to full-time (defined as 40+ hours per week), broadly defined food-sector workers. Employees working less than full-time must receive an average of 2 week’s pay. This leave is in addition to accrued leave an employee may receive via California’s existing paid sick leave (PSL) requirements. Employers may not require employees to use other accrued time off before using the new paid leave. Employers already providing an equal or more generous supplemental paid leave for COVID-19 purposes do not have to provide additional leave. Additionally, the following counties/cities in California are following a similar path for a broader range of employees (those working for companies with 500 or more employees):
  • Colorado is requiring employers in certain industries (leisure/hospitality, food services, retail establishments, real estate sales/leasing, offices/office work, elective health services, nursing homes, etc.) to provide 80 hours of leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Unique to Colorado is that the leave is only available to employees who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms or under instructions to self-quarantine from an appropriate entity. The paid leave ends if the employee receives a negative COVID-19 test result and has been fever-free for 72 hours, with other symptoms resolving. Employers already providing leave that meets or exceeds these requirements do not have to provide additional leave.
  • New York is requiring employers with 100 or more employees to provide 14 days (112 hours) of paid leave. The leave is available for employees to use without exhausting existing accrued leave and is job-protected. Outside of COVID-19- related leave, beginning in 2021, New York is requiring employers to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year. New York’s latter mandate does not preempt existing ordinances in New York City and West Chester County, but it does preempt cities with fewer than 1 million inhabitants from enacting new paid leave mandates.

For more details on the paid leave provisions, please visit our paid sick leave tool.

Next Steps

We recommend that employers with operations in these states:

  • Review current leave policies to determine what changes to leave provisions you may need to make to accommodate the new state and local requirements; and
  • Work with HR, payroll and any third-party vendors to determine what steps, if any, are needed to comply.

We provide this material for informational purposes only; it is not a substitute for legal advice.

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