Q&A: NYS Employers and COVID-19 Sick Leave

A news source recently reported that “another summer COVID wave may have started in the U.S.” (NPR, 2023).  As a result, NYS employers may begin seeing an uptick in the number of employees who are absent from work due to illness.  You yourself may have wondered, “What are my obligations regarding employee sick leave due to COVID-19?”


A NYSCA Member states, and then asks: An employee in my office has requested paid sick leave due to contracting COVID-19.  What are my obligations as an employer?


A preliminary search online revealed the following: In general,  NYS legislation that went into effect in 2020 requires the following for paid sick leave:

  • 0-4 Employees
    • If net income is $1 million or less, the employer must provide up to 40hrs unpaid sick leave
    • If net income is greater than $1 million, the employer must provide up to 40hrs paid sick leave.
  • 5-99 Employees
    • Employers with 5-99 employees must provide up to 40hrs paid sick leave per calendar year.

According to the NY.gov website, there are additional requirements for sick leave due to COVID-19 that are dependent upon employer size and revenue. 

Even if a “small employer” is not required to provide paid sick leave, it does appear that employees may be entitled to unpaid sick leave. Accrual guidelines are detailed on the NY.gov website.  Further, the employee may be eligible to use PFL and disability benefits. If an employer with 10 or fewer employees has a net income greater than $1 million, that employer must provide at least 5 PAID COVID-19 sick days.

Employers should also be aware that the state indicates that an "employer cannot retaliate against an employee in any way for exercising their rights to use sick leave. Furthermore, employees must be restored to their position of employment as it had been prior to any sick leave taken."


Please note: The NYSCA does not provide members with personal or professional legal advice.  It is strongly encouraged that members seek out competent legal counsel well versed in the area(s) of law concerning any legal questions of a personal or professional nature.
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