Social distancing and work from home orders, quarantine, and school closures are challenging New York’s families. The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act is designed to alleviate the financial burden of caring for your family during this trying time. The intent is to ensure that you, as an employee, do not need to choose between a paycheck and public health.

What are the benefits offered by the Families First Act? 

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at your regular rate of pay if you’re unable to work due to being quarantined due to federal, state, or local government order or by the advice of your medical provider, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; OR
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds your regular rate of pay if you’re unable to work to care for an individual subject to quarantine or to care for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19; AND
  • Up to an additional ten weeks paid leave at two-thirds your regular rate of pay to care for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19. You must have been employed for at 30 calendar days prior to the closure.

Not all employers must provide Families First leave.
Certain public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide leave. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from providing the additional ten weeks leave if the requirements jeopardize the viability of the business.

How do I make best use of this benefit?
Provide notice to your employer as soon as you know you will need to use the Families First leave. After the first paid day of sick leave, your employer may ask you to follow reasonable notice procedures to continue receiving paid leave.

Will my leave hurt my employer?
While some employers may be exempt from Families First, the federal government will reimburse your employer for your wages.

Additional Resources
Read the Workplace Rights and COVID-19 Fact Sheet by the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) for a summary of city, state, and federal laws that may protect you.

The Department of Labor has a Families First Q&A here.


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