Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Saturday that would allow employers to deny paid sick leave to employees that travel to states with high COVID-19 infection rates.
Right now, that includes only eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. However, every Monday, the health commissioners from the three states with travel advisories, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Jersey, will be meeting to examine infection rates of other states to update that list on Tuesday.
The new list will most likely include states like California, Idaho, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee.
“It does not name a state, any state,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his press briefing on Monday. “It’s got nothing to do with politics. It’s nothing to do with I like Minnesota or I don’t like California; it’s an equation, it’s a set of numbers. If your infection rate is above X then when you come here please quarantine.”
All state employees in both the public and private sector would be blocked from using their sick leave set aside for mandatory or precautionary quarantines.
Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York state, says paying employees this sick time if they voluntarily travel to a high-risk state was a concern they had brought forward to the Governor’s team.
“It recognizes people have personal responsibility,” Pokalsky explained. “It didn’t make sense for a person working in New York who has full knowledge of this quarantine to be able to travel to say the state of Florida or Texas and be eligible for 14 days of paid time off.”
However, an idea that Pokalsky and others have tossed around would be to allow for people traveling from these high-risk states to take a coronavirus test if they do not want to quarantine themselves. States like Maine already have this rule in place.
“It doesn’t make sense to us to quarantine people who are not sick and if you can show it through immediate testing and monitoring of symptoms,” Pokalsky said.
There are exceptions to the sick-leave order. If an employee travels for work or at an employer’s request, they could still be allowed to use their sick time to quarantine when they return to New York.