top of page



Because so much of the current federal and state legislation is new and being interpreted and re-interpreted by the federal government and New York State please check back for updates.  We are working to provide you the most up to date information.
GELC Attorneys are available to help you with any of the following issues (all of which are discussed at greater length below):

   1.  Understanding your rights to job benefits if impacted by COVID-19

   2.  Help with applying for benefits

   3.  Help if your employer or the government does not provide benefits

   4.  Retaliation by your employer for requesting benefits, including job termination

   5.  Discrimination claims under cover of your employer making economic decisions

Please reach out directly to GELC with questions at our free hotline: 888-833-4363 or e-mail us at: (También puede escribirnos at


Last updated: September 15, 2020


This is a scary time for Americans and for the world. While we don’t have much individual control over the impact of the Coronavirus—beyond listening to the experts and practicing social distancing—we suggest that our readers refer to some or all of the following websites to keep up to date on emergency health issues.

National Institutes of Health


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Risk Factors for COVID-19


Updates for New Yorkers on the Coronavirus

Family First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers (US Dep't of Labor Wage and Hour Unit)


On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law a two Trillion Dollar Relief bill called the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). The CARES Act provides additional wage replacements for workers displaced by the Coronavirus as well as provides benefits for individuals who work on a project basis, typically referred to as “gig” workers.

This Section will Address Three Provisions of the New Law:


     A.   Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

The CARES Act provides increased benefits up to $600 per week on top of what one already receives through unemployment insurance as determined by each state. This amount is to be paid weekly to workers beginning on the date the law was signed through July 31, 2020.


For example, in New York, under the pre-CARES Act law, workers eligible for unemployment insurance are typically able to receive approximately one-half of their weekly wages capped at $504.00 per week. The CARES payment of $600 per week will be automatically added to your usual unemployment insurance benefits. So for someone who is eligible for the maximum payment of $504.00 per week they will now be able to collect $1104 per week but only for up to four months.

     B.  Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

The CARES Act also provides an additional 13 weeks of state unemployment insurance benefits, which will become available after someone exhausts all of their regular state UI benefits. So, for example, in New York, after you exhaust 26 weeks of benefits you will be eligible for 13 more weeks or for a total of 39 weeks of benefits. If you apply for benefits beginning March 27th, you will receive the increase of $600 per week benefit for up to four months or up to July 31, 2020.

Search For Work

Under the laws applicable to unemployment insurance across the country, including in New York, to continue to be eligible to receive unemployment insurance you will be required to continue to “search for work.” However, the bill recognizes that searching for work at this time involves different skills and effort from normal times and that finding a job may be extremely difficult when the economy is shutting down. As a result, the CARES Act provides that states use flexibility in assessing whether workers are meeting this requirement.

Waiting Period

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, New York State mandated a seven day waiting period after losing one’s job in order to apply and obtain unemployment insurance benefits. This requirement has currently been waived which means that when you apply for unemployment benefits, you will receive them immediately.

You can apply for unemployment benefits online at ​ 

or by phone at (888) 209-8124. 


Extended hours now include:

Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 7:30 pm.
Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Saturday, 7:30 am to 8:00 pm.


For frequently asked questions about COVID-19 lay-offs


Please see:


*** To Help Avoid Congestion On Already Overwhelmed Lines:


Please be aware that the NYS Department of Labor is asking workers to call on certain days based on their last names.  See the link above for more information and for a breakdown of those days. Telephone call wait times for applying for benefits at this time can be long so we recommend trying to apply online first if possible. 



















In addition, if you have already applied for NYS Unemployment Insurance, you do not need to reapply for the CARES enhancement. You will see this money shortly in your account.


Notably, this Pandemic Unemployment Insurance payment is not “income” for purposes of Medicaid or CHIP.


Unfortunately, undocumented workers are not entitled to Unemployment Insurance benefits in New York.


     C.  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance


Under this provision of the CARES Act, these workers will be able to apply for up to 39 weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.


Part-time workers, furloughed employees and anyone who can no longer physically go to their jobs, as well as employees who have been told to self-quarantine pursuant to Governor Cuomo’s Pause Order, will be covered under this expansion. Unemployment insurance will also be extended to people who recently started a new job but were laid off due to the pandemic, even if they don’t have sufficient work history previously required to be eligible. For an explanation of who is now covered for unemployment benefits under the PUA see:

Although PUA is a broad law it does not cover two specific situations:


  1.  Essential workers who must report to work are not eligible to receive PEUC or PUA.

  2.  Workers who can perform their job duties at home and are being paid for working are not entitled to these benefits


For help determining whether a business is "essential" under Executive Order 202.6 and subject to a workforce reduction, see:  - this will help folks determine whether they are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (in addition to regular unemployment insurance) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.



In March of 2020, both New York State and the federal government passed paid sick and family leave bills in response to the desperate need of workers to remain at home related to COVID-19 illness, mandatory self-quarantine orders, or the need to care for family. 


GELC is working hard to fully understand these laws, with fast pace changes happening almost daily. Please check back regularly for updates.


In response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York State, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law emergency legislation that may provide job protection and income to workers who are subject to an order of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19. This law has two components: paid sick leave and paid family leave.


Some Important Facts That You Need To Know About New York PAID SICK LEAVE

  1. Your employer must still be in business and you must still be employed.

  2. Payments are available immediately.

  3. Who is covered and how much you will receive is dependent on the size of your employer


  • If you work for a public employer or an employer with more than 100 employees as of January 1, 2020, you are entitled to at least 14 days of paid sick leave at your regular rate of pay.

  • If you work for an employer with 11 or more employees or for an employer with fewer than 10 employees as of January 1, 2020, whose income was greater than $1 million dollars in 2019 you are entitled to at least 5 sick days at your regular rate of pay.  After those days are used, you may be eligible to receive your weekly wages through a combination of Paid Family Leave and disability benefits up to a maximum of $2,884.62 per week.

  • If you work for an employer with fewer than 10 employees as of January 1, 2020, whose income was $1 million dollars or less in 2019, then you may be eligible to receive your weekly wages through a combination of Paid Family Leave and disability benefits up to a maximum of $2,884.62 per week.


For more information about these benefits see


You do not need to apply for these. Benefits from the government in the same way you need to do so for Paid Family Leave and/or Temporary Disability Benefits. Your employer is required to pay sick leave benefits directly to you.


  4.  You do not need to exhaust any current earned paid sick leave that you already have. You can use the New York               State Paid Sick leave days and then request on top of that sick leave accrued.



Some Important Facts That You Need To Know About New York Paid Leave for COVID-19:


  1. You need to still be employed to be eligible for these benefits. If you have been laid off because there is no work or your employer’s business has shut down, because of the COVID-19 crises or has been ordered to close pursuant to government order, you will need to apply for unemployment insurance benefits at ​

  2. To be eligible for New York State Paid Family Leave you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Please follow the links below for more information.

   3. Paid Family Leave benefits are not available to employees who are able to work through remote access or other                 means.

   4. As always, Paid Family Leave can also be used to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

   5. Your employer cannot take any adverse action against you while you are receiving these benefits.


For details about your eligibility for benefits visit

For answers to frequently asked questions see


As stated above, please check back regularly at these sites for the most up to date information.


     A.  How To Apply for Paid Family Leave/disability benefits for yourself due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Notify your employer and submit your completed request for paid family leave forms to your employer’s insurance carrier no later than 30 days from your first day of leave to avoid losing any benefits. See Request for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave for Yourself.


You will need to complete two forms:


  1. Request for COVID-19 Quarantine DB/PFL – Self (Form SCOVID-19), and

  2. Request for Paid Family (Form-PFL-1)


Both of these forms can be found on the New York State website at the link above.


**NOTE that If you are not at work due to the mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, you can send the forms to your employer by email or regular mail.


     B.  To apply for Paid Family Leave benefits if you are unable to work because your minor dependent child is                   subject to a quarantine order


Notify your employer of the need to apply for these benefits immediately. Then go to the following link and follow instructions to complete the required forms:

Request for COVID-19 Quarantine Leave for Minor Dependent Child 


You will have to complete the employee sections of both forms.

  1.  Request for COVID-19 Quarantine PFL - Child (Form CCOVID19), and

  2.  Request for Paid Family Leave (Form PFL-1)


     C.  If you are applying for Paid Leave to care for a sick or ill family member


If you have an eligible family member* who contracts COVID-19, you may be able to take Family Leave to care for them if it’s considered a serious health condition. The requirements for eligibility and paid leave follow the same provisions that have been in existence since the New York State Paid Family Leave law became effective in 2018.


Similarly, the COVID-19 emergency provisions signed into law by Governor Cuomo do not change the existing Paid Family Leave coverage. For example, if a family member because seriously ill with a condition that is not related to COVID-19, you would still be eligible for paid leave.


*For information about coverage, including who is an “eligible family member” and what constitutes a “serious health condition” and to apply for these benefits see


For answers to most commonly asked questions about paid family leave



Please check back regularly for updates to the links above.

How to Obtain Information About Your Employer’s Insurance Carrier:


If you cannot obtain information about your employer’s health insurance carrier from your employer directly, go to the application section of each link provided above and scroll down to the “Employer Search” button. You can look up your employer’s carrier there.


If you cannot locate your employer’s insurance carrier by using the links, try calling the NYS Paid Leave Hotline at:



If you believe your employer does not have insurance, submit your forms to:


NYS Workers’ Compensation Board

Paid Family Leave

PO Box 9030,

Endicott, NY 13761-9030


**Always keep copies of any documents you submit to your employer, your employer’s insurance company, or to any government agency.



What You Should Expect From Your Employer With Regard To Applying For Paid Family Leave


Your employer is required to return the forms to you within three business days. If your employer fails to return the forms to you, submit the forms that you have filled out, along with the mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. The current instructions on the New York State websites regarding these benefits state that workers need to obtain orders of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation or obtain documentation from a medical professional. We know workers are finding this requirement challenging and working to obtain clarification from State government leaders. We are also working to expand the provisions of the law to include a mandatory self-quarantine order such as Governor Cuomo’s Pause Order.

Many provisions of the new Paid Sick and Family Leave Laws can be confusing. GELC is here to help you understand your rights and guide you through applying for benefits.

Please contact our Free Legal Hotline at 1-888-833-4363 to discuss your current situation. Or write to us at: (También puede escribirnos at All consultations are confidential.

As stated above: Please be aware that paid family leave is not available for workers deemed “essential” by New York State. For a list of who is deemed an essential worker see


On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. This law went into effect April 2, 2020.


Under this multi-part consolidated law covering eight separate bills, Congress passed both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). 

To learn more about who is eligible for paid leave under these acts and the corresponding amounts of coverage see generally:






Please also check back regularly at:

For updated information on Paid Leave see here:


Available in Spanish here:

For answers to specific questions please see:


Some Important Facts You Should Know About the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act:

  1. Your employer must still remain open for business and you must be employed at the time you take leave in order to receive benefits.

  2. Benefits will be available immediately beginning on April 1, 2020.

  3. Full time employees will be eligible for up to 10 days of paid leave (part time will employees will be eligible for 10 days of part time pay)

  4. You will not be required to exhaust other paid leave you receive from your employer.

  5. While taking this protected time your job will be protected and your employer may not take any adverse action against you.


Some Important Facts You Should Know About the Emergency Family and Medical Expansion Act:

  1. Your employer must still be in business and you must still be employed at the time you request leave.

  2. You are only entitled to take this leave if you work for an employer who employs 500 employees or less. GELC and other advocates are working to expand this law to all U.S. workers.

  3. For most employees, you will be eligible to request this leave after having worked for 30 calendar days.

  4. You will need to exhaust paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act before being eligible for Emergency Paid Family Leave. As of the date of this publication, it is unclear as to whether employees who were eligible to take FMLA before the COVID-19 crises and who have done so within the past year will be eligible for an entirely new allotment of family leave under the EFMLEA. We will be updating you on this information.

  5. While receiving these benefits your job will be protected and your employer may not take adverse action against you        for taking this leave.

GELC is working with several allies to expand paid leave, both to include paid family leave on a national level as a permanent right for working families and to increase the provisions under the emergency FFCRL, for instance expanding coverage to all employers, even those with 500 or more employees. We are also working with advocates to lobby for all emergency FMLA leave to be deemed a new allotment of time for workers who need this important benefit. 

Because of the passage of so many new laws, GELC is here to help you navigate this new normal world and to help protect you and your family as much as possible with income replacements and job protections to the extent these laws allow. If you need advice and guidance with regard to any employment related laws please contact us on our free legal hotline at: 1-888-833-4363 or e-mail us at (También puede escribirnos at


GELC is also working to advocate for the rights of undocumented workers who are not covered by many of the job-related protections and wage replacement laws that are being passed and are now or will be shortly effective. We will provide updates on new laws including a stimulus bill that would provide much needed economic relief to undocumented workers.



The COVID-19 pandemic and related public health, economic, and social upheaval is no excuse to discriminate against workers. For instance, if you have a disability as defined under the law, as relates to illness or symptoms caused by the Coronavirus, you may be entitled to ask for a reasonable accommodation from your employer. See guidance from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on your legal rights if you are disabled. There are also strong protections under New York State and New York City regarding reasonable accommodation of a disclosed disability that may protect you with regard to COVID-19 work issues.

For helpful resources in NYC, see her:




The COVID-19 Virus is not an excuse for discrimination. An employer may not make any adverse employment decision against you because of your sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, pregnancy or pregnancy related condition, or your race, religion, national origin, age, marital status, caregiver or familial status, disability, immigration status, or because you are a victim of domestic or intimate partner violence.   

This includes, but is not limited to, making decisions to terminate or reduce the hours of an employee because of a protected category, make disparaging remarks about an employee because of one or more protected categories, and/or targeting certain workers on the basis of these protected categories.


For information about your rights under these laws see: (federal), (state); (City).  


For more information about your legal right not to be discriminated against during this period of the COVID-19 crisis, please call GELC’s hotline at: 888-833-4363 or e-mail us at:



Other Information that may be useful and helpful for workers and their families:


General Workers Rights Pages


Website for the City of New York

The NYS DOL has opened a website to take COVID-19 complaints. Click here. You may file a complaint for any of the following reasons:

   1.  You qualify for COVID-19 paid sick leave and your employer refuses to pay it.
   2.  You are being directed to work at a non-essential business.
   3.  Your employer has failed to pay your earned sick pay or paid time off.
   4.  Your employer has failed to pay your earned wages or pay for all of the hours you worked.
   5.  Your employer has threatened or fired you for reasons related to COVID-19.
   6.  Your employer is forcing you to work when you are sick.
   7.  You know about a business that is non-essential and is operating.





   1.  Understanding your rights to job benefits if impacted by COVID-19

   2.  Help with applying for benefits

   3.  Help if your employer or the government does not provide benefits

   4.  Retaliation by your employer for requesting benefits, including job termination

   5.  Discrimination claims under cover of your employer making economic decisions


Call Us at 1-888-833-4363 or e-mail us at for assistance with any of these things.

Help us Help Workers


If you would like to donate to GELC in support of our legal work to help families and workers safeguard themselves during the Coronavirus and to help our larger community weather this incredibly difficult time, please go to our donate page. Our clients and workers will thank you.

bottom of page