Restaurant and Delivery Workers to Benefit from New Paid Sick Leaves During Coronavirus Pandemic

In a key development to try and protect all employees struggling with job security, particularly restaurant and delivery workers that continue to be essential, two new federal and state laws have been enacted to financially help during the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible employees will be able to earn their full rate of pay while out sick or in quarantine for up to two weeks. The federal law signed by President Trump and state law signed by Governor Cuomo aim to help low income workers in dire need of assistance. Read on to understand how these laws may affect you.

Who is eligible for this paid sick leave under these laws?

Workers nationwide who are employed by companies with fewer than 500 employees will be covered by federal law, and employees in New York will have additional coverage for those working for companies with 100 employees or more under New York law if they are subject to “mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.” Part-time workers, and 1099 or self-employed individuals nationwide will also be eligible for coverage under the federal law. However, if a company with fewer than 50 employees can prove that giving paid leave could put their small business at risk of going under, they can be exempt from providing coverage.

How much am I entitled to receive under these paid sick laws? 

Under federal law, employees nationwide will be able to receive up to two weeks of pay equaling up to $511 per day. This rate is believed to cover a wide range of restaurant and delivery workers’ pay in the hospitality industry. 

Any worker nationwide that needs to stay home to care for a child whose school or care provider has closed due to reasons related to COVID-19 can receive up to $200 per day for up to 12 weeks, which could total up to $10,000.

1099 employees, such as cooks, delivery drivers and gig workers, will be eligible to take a credit against the self-employment tax if they have received a quarantine order. This would be the equivalent of up to one week of emergency paid sick leave with the max being $511 per day or $200 per day if caring for a child whose school or care provider has closed down. If their quarantine order extends past that week they can opt to use New York State’s paid family leave program to recover up to 60 percent of their wages.

How soon can I request to use my paid sick leave under these laws?

The paid sick leave time is available for immediate use for eligible employees. There are no restrictions on how long you need to be an employee for before applying under the federal law. Companies that are required to pay this sick leave will be able to recover 100 percent of the cost associated with coverage through payroll tax credits.

As a restaurant or delivery worker, will I have to find someone to cover my shifts while I’m out?  

No. Eligible restaurant and delivery workers nationwide will not have to worry about finding someone to cover their shifts while they are on their paid leave under federal law. Employers are explicitly forbidden from requiring sick or quarantined employees to find replacement workers to cover their shifts.

These uncertain times are a strain on many households throughout the United States. If you are an employee struggling to understand what your rights are during this time, give us a call for a free and confidential phone consultation. Our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, has available representatives at (212) 300-0375 to help discuss your claims. You can also visit our website for additional helpful information.