New Yorkers who visit states with high COVID-19 infection rates will be ineligible for sick leave

New Yorkers who visit states with high COVID-19 infection rates will be ineligible for sick leave

ALBANY - Don't go to a state with a high COVID-19, come back to New York and expect to get paid sick leave benefits.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Saturday that strips the paid sick leave protections for New York employees who voluntarily travel to high-risk states after June 25.

"If we are going to maintain the progress we've seen, we need everyone to take personal responsibility," Cuomo said in a statement.

"That's why I'm issuing an executive order that says any New York employee who voluntarily travels to a high-risk state will not be eligible for the COVID protections we created under paid sick leave."

The order is the latest crackdown by Cuomo to avoid a surge in coronavirus in New York as its infection rates have been at record lows, but have hit record highs in parts of the South and West.

On Wednesday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut agreed to implement a 14-day quarantine on anyone visiting from nine states with high rates of COVID-19.

The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington Utah and Texas. California and several other states are also expected to be added to the state.

Role reversal: NY, NJ, Conn. direct out-of-state travelers to quarantine because of COVID-19

Arriving passengers await their bags in the baggage claim area at LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B baggage claim area, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in New York. New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are asking visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.

Travel to the same states will lead New Yorkers to have to forgo COVID-19 paid sick leave that Cuomo and the state Legislature approved March 17.

The criteria for a state to make the list is a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or higher than a 10% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

The sick-leave order does not apply if the employee travels for work or at the employer's request, Cuomo said in a news release.

More:Q&A: What to know about the quarantine if traveling to NY, NJ and CT

More:Reopening NY: How a local sneaker store is finding its stride after COVID-19, then looting

The order expands on an mandate earlier this year that made New Yorkers ineligible for paid sick leave if they travel to a country with a level two or three travel health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For employees in the private sector who have to take mandatory or precautionary quarantines or isolation because of COVID-19 exposure, the Legislature passed a law to provide paid sick leave with various benefits depending on the size of the employer:

Employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income less than $1 million need to provide job protection for the duration of the quarantine order and guarantee their workers access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits, including wage replacement for their salaries up to $150,000.Employers with 11 to 99 employees and employers with 10 or fewer employees and a net income greater than $1 million must provide at least 5 days of paid sick leave, job protection and guarantee the same benefits.Employers with 100 or more employees, as well as all public employers, need to provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave and guarantee job protection for the duration of the quarantine order.

The order Saturday was announced alongside a directive from Cuomo to have the state Department of Health investigate COVID-19 exposure at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, Westchester County, during a high school graduation ceremony earlier this month.

An attendee has tested positive for the virus and since then, four others tested positive.

"As we are seeing in other states who reopened quickly, the pandemic is far from over and we need stay vigilant," Cuomo said.

More:Possible COVID-19 cluster at Chappaqua high school graduation under investigation

More:New York will 'randomly' check flight passengers to ensure they quarantine for COVID-19

Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

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