COVID-19

New York Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Disability Benefits Law (DBL)

Updated March 30, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of New York has updated their PFL and DBL programs. The following is a summary of the changes, which are effective immediately.

Our systems are ready to administer these changes for New York PFL and DBL benefits. If you have questions, contact your First Symetra representative.

Employer Requirements

“Quarantine” is defined as a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, a local board of health, or any government entity authorized to issue such an order as a result of COVID-19.

  • Employers with 100 or more employees and public employers must provide employees with at least 14 days of paid sick leave while under a quarantine order. These employees are not eligible to receive COVID-19-related DBL and PFL benefits. 
  • Public employers include state, local, county and municipal governments; school boards and districts; state-run colleges and universities; and police and fire districts.
  • Employers with 11 to 99 employees must provide employees with five days of paid sick leave and unpaid sick leave until the termination of the quarantine order. After the five days of paid sick leave are exhausted, employees are eligible for COVID-19-related DBL and PFL benefits.
  • Employers with 1 to 10 employees and net income of less than $1 million must provide employees with unpaid sick leave until the termination of the quarantine order. These employees are eligible for COVID-19-related DBL and PFL benefits.
  • Employers with 1 to 10 employees and net income of $1 million or more must provide employees with five days of paid sick leave and unpaid sick leave until the termination of the quarantine order. After the five days of paid sick leave are exhausted, employees are eligible for COVID-19-related DBL and PFL benefits.

COVID-19-related PFL and DBL benefits for groups with 1 to 99 employees 

After receiving paid sick leave from an employer for the required number of days (if any, as previously described), an eligible employee under a quarantine order is entitled to COVID-19-related DBL and PFL benefits equal to 100% of the employee’s average wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $2,884.62. This consists of:

  • PFL benefits equal to 60% of the employee’s weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70.
  • DBL benefits, paid concurrently with PFL benefits, in an amount needed to bring total benefits to 100% of the employee’s weekly wage. Because the maximum benefit under PFL and DBL is $2,884.62, the DBL benefit cannot exceed $2,043.92.

DBL benefits are payable on the first day of disability for COVID-19-related claims.

The benefit for an eligible employee caring for a dependent child who is under a quarantine order is 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70.

Revisions to the definition of disability

The definition of disability includes the inability to perform the regular duties of employment, or the duties of any other employment which an employer may offer, as a result of a quarantine order when the employee has exhausted all paid sick leave provided by the employer.

Revisions to the definition of family leave

  • Family leave is any leave from work taken by an employee when the employee is subject to a quarantine order.
  • Family leave is also any leave from work taken by an employee to provide care for a minor dependent child who is subject to a quarantine order.

Exclusions

  • Employees deemed asymptomatic or not yet diagnosed with any medical condition and who are physically able to work while under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, whether through remote access or other similar means are not eligible for benefits. 
  • Employees who are self-quarantining after returning to the United States following non-work-related travel abroad to a Level 2 or 3 country and had notice of travel restrictions prior to the trip. These employees may use other accrued leave and must be provided unpaid sick time through the duration of precautionary quarantine.

New York PFL and DBL and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 18, 2020. Here is how the FFCRA affects New York PFL and DBL as of the publication date noted at the top of this page.

  • If the federal government provides sick leave, or other employee benefits related to COVID-19, a New York employee may still be eligible for COVID-19-related leave under New York law, but only if the benefits under New York law are greater than what the employee is entitled to under federal law or regulation.
  • The amount of an employee’s paid leave for COVID-19 under New York law will be reduced by the amount of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (under the FFCRA) that an employee is entitled to receive.

Please note that the information provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Consult your independent legal representative for more information.

 

Symetra Life Insurance Company is a direct subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation. First Symetra National Life Insurance Company of New York is a direct subsidiary of Symetra Life Insurance Company and is an indirect subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation (collectively, “Symetra”). Neither Symetra Financial Corporation nor Symetra Life Insurance Company solicits business in the state of New York and they are not authorized to do so. Each company is responsible for its own financial obligations.