Gov. Cuomo Signs Legislation Prohibiting Public Employers from Penalizing Employees for Absences Related to COVID-19

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4201-A/A.4063) prohibiting public employers from penalizing employees who use sick leave or compensatory time to quarantine, seek medical treatment, or for other absences related to a COVID-19 diagnosis or contact.

"From the beginning of this national public health crisis, we have done everything possible to protect those New Yorkers who needed to make sacrifices in order to cope with the hardships of COVID," Governor Cuomo said. "No one should have to suffer a penalty for missing work because of COVID, and under this new law, every public employee in our state will get the protection they deserve - so they don't have to face unfair consequences for doing what was necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones."

This new measure builds on COVID-related employee protections signed into law by Governor Cuomo, including guaranteed paid leave for New Yorkers under mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to COVID, and guaranteed time off from work to receive the vaccine.

Senator Diane Savino said, "For some workers, the idea of remote work is impossible, even during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Our essential workforce, our first responders -- police, fire, healthcare and corrections -- just cannot do it by broadband. That is why it was shocking to find out that the New York City Department of Corrections was actually punishing their own employees for following the rules that we adopted right here in the State of New York. Eight hundred ninety-three correction officers who tested positive and were forced to utilize their sick time to comply with the requirements that were set out by the Department of Health were declared chronically absent. This determination is considered an adverse disciplinary action that goes into effect after an officer has missed 11 days of work - a determination can have an impact on their pay, promotion, hours and makes many of them vulnerable to potential layoffs.  I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and sending a clear message to all public employers, that we will not tolerate this type of punitive action against employees who show up and follow the laws and the rules that we write."

Assemblyman Peter Abbate said, "Happy to hear the Governor is signing my bill which will protect public employees who became ill during the coronavirus pandemic or came in contact with someone with the COVID-19. These employees can now feel safe while they protect their health, the health of their family and the health of their coworkers without fear of retaliation."

COBA President Benny Boscio Jr. said, "On behalf of all of our essential New York City Correction Officers who bravely served our city throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which took a heavy toll on our members, I thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing this landmark legislation today that will prevent public employers, like the New York City Department of Correction, from taking any disciplinary and retaliatory action against public employees for their COVID-19 related absences. This legislation will correct the injustice experienced by over 800 of our members who were punished for taking sick leave because of their COVID-19 related symptoms. I also want to express our deep gratitude to Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Peter Abbate for taking up this fight with us and moving this legislation quickly through the Senate and the Assembly."