How Do the Updated CDC COVID-19 Guidelines Impact New York’s COVID-19 Leave Law?

By Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs Senior Counsel and
Director, Employment Law and Compliance
Published March 11, 2024

On March 1, 2024, the CDC updated its COVID-19 recommendations (CDC Guidance), specifically eliminating the five-day quarantine recommendation after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

As the height of the pandemic recedes and updated guidance rolls out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to COVID-19, employers are left grappling with compliance issues stemming from conflicting legislation. For example, even with loosening CDC recommendations about COVID-19 quarantine guidelines, New York’s COVID-19 paid leave law includes paid leave for employees who must quarantine or care for a family member quarantining due to COVID-19. 

Updated CDC Guidance Regarding COVID-19 

On March 1, 2024, the CDC updated its COVID-19 recommendations (CDC Guidance), specifically eliminating the five-day quarantine recommendation after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The new guidance was generated due to the changing risk environment, lower rates of severe disease from COVID-19, increased population immunity, and other improvements such as prevention and control strategies. The CDC Guidance now focuses on the overall category of “respiratory viruses” rather than COVID-19 specifically.  

Individuals who have a respiratory virus (COVID-19, flu, RSV) may return to normal activities after 24 hours if they no longer have a fever and symptoms are improving. The CDC Guidance includes preventative steps to take during the five days after returning to normal activity. However, a five-day quarantine is no longer recommended. 

For individuals with a diagnosed respiratory virus without a fever or symptoms, the CDC Guidance suggests the individual take added precautions when around others indoors like added hygiene, wearing a mask, and physical distancing, but includes no quarantine requirements. 

New York’s COVID-19 Leave Law 

Since 2020, New York has required most employers (those with 11 employees or more) to provide their employees with paid leave if the employee is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation from New York, its department of health, a local board of health, or another governmental entity. The New York Department of Health has not responded yet with any updated guidelines consistent with the CDC Guidance; and the New York COVID-19 leave law remains in effect and employees are entitled to paid quarantine leave in the event it is ordered. 

Employers in New York Should Watch for Further Updates 

Employers should keep an eye out for further changes in guidance from the New York Department of Health and potential updates to the New York COVID-19 Leave law. It is possible the New York Department of Health may update their COVID-19 guidelines. If they do and depending on how much the New York Department of Health changes its guidelines to be consistent with the updated CDC Guidance, employee entitlement to New York COVID-19 paid leave may be impacted. 

Another potential change to New York’s COVID-19 paid leave law could result from New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget plan. The budget plan includes a proposal to sunset the COVID-19 paid leave law by July 31, 2024. 

Looking for a helping hand? GovDocs’ Paid Leave helps employers navigate increasingly complex paid leave laws at the federal, state, county, and city levels to ensure compliance. 

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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