A young Black female sitting on her doorstep clasping a coffee mug and looking dreamily in the distance.

After New York quickly passed a COVID-19 leave law earlier this month, many employees were left wondering what kind of documentation demonstrating the need to quarantine or isolate would qualify them for paid leave benefits and how to obtain it.

In ReedGroup’s March 27 blog post, we described the New York law’s requirement that an employee seeking paid sick leave and/or benefits under New York’s paid family leave and disability insurance programs have an individualized mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the state department of health, a local board of health, or another authorized government entity.

Quarantine and Isolation Orders Should be Obtained From Local Health Departments

Following our post, the New York Paid Family Leave program updated its FAQs to make clear that an employee who is seeking compensation in the form of paid family leave and/or disability benefits during a leave necessitated by quarantine or isolation must “submit an order from your local health department indicating you or your minor child is under a precautionary or mandatory order of quarantine or isolation.”

Health Care Provider Attestations Can Serve As Temporary Placeholders For Health Department Orders

For employees who cannot immediately obtain an order from their local health department, the New York Paid Family Leave program will accept an attestation from the employee’s (or the employee’s minor child’s) health care provider indicating that the employee or minor child meets the criteria for an order of isolation or quarantine. For example, an employee would meet the qualifications for mandatory isolation if the employee has tested positive for COVID-19 or, if testing is not available, the employee has COVID-19 symptoms and has had contact with a known COVID-19 case. An employee who submits a health care provider attestation is still required to provide an individualized order as soon as it is made available by the local health department.

The requirements for issuance of an order of mandatory isolation, order of precautionary quarantine, and order of mandatory quarantine are addressed individually in the “Obtaining a Quarantine Order” section of the FAQs as well as in newly published standalone Guidance For Obtaining An Order For Mandatory Or Precautionary Quarantine.

General Stay-at-Home Orders Will Not Suffice For New York COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave, PFL or DBL Benefits

The New York guidance does not address other potential avenues for obtaining a qualifying order of quarantine or isolation from any of the other government entities listed in the law. However, the absence of discussion of Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order, which has been extended through at least April 15, reinforces that orders imposing generally applicable preventative social distancing measures are not sufficient to support an employee’s request for paid leave or benefits under New York’s law.

Continue to stay up to date on federal and state COVID-19 leave legislation and agency guidance by subscribing to ReedGroup’s compliance blog and visiting the Coronavirus Update portal.

If you’re looking for assistance managing claims or to ensure compliance across your organization, ReedGroup has solutions for you. Check out our offerings here.


Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.

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