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COVID-19

New York State Passes New Emergency Paid Leave for COVID-19 and Paid Sick Leave

From The Business Council BCNYS.org 

Yesterday the New York State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a bill that adopts two separate and distinct sick leave programs: 1) A provision that provides paid time off for employees impacted by the COVID-19 virus and; 2) A new, permanent law requiring all employers to provide sick leave to their employees. You can find the bill in its entirety here. Details are provided below.

First, emergency paid sick leave for an employee under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19. These provisions would be effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature. In this case, employers of 99 or less will be obligated to:

  • Notify employees of the availability of leave as described below;
  • To provide job protected leave as described below;
  • Provide documents required for that employee to apply for Paid Family Leave (PFL) and New York State Short Term Disability (DBL);
  • Employers of 100 or more only need to provide paid sick leave as required.

Provisions of the bill include:

  • Employers of 10 or fewer as of January 1, 2020 must provide unpaid sick time during an employee’s period of ordered quarantine or isolation, except those employers with net income of more than $1 million, which must provide five days of paid sick leave;
  • Employers of 11 to 99 must provide five days of paid sick leave;
  • Employers of 100 or more must provide up to fourteen days of paid sick leave;
  • Public employers must provide at least fourteen days of paid sick leave;
  • Benefits would not be available to employees deemed asymptomatic or not yet diagnosed with any medical condition and is physically able to work, through remote access or other means.

This leave is job protected and employees are, interestingly, not eligible to use this leave if the employee is returning from personal travel to one of the destinations on the CDC travel advisory list. These employees would be able to use any available employer provided leave time or, absent that, unpaid sick leave for the duration of the quarantine.

For employers of 99 employees or less, should an employee’s period of quarantine or isolation extend beyond available sick time as described above, the employee would be able to apply for Paid Family Leave (PFL) and New York State Short Term Disability (DBL) concurrently – as you know this is not possible under current law. Benefit amounts would be a combination of payments from PFL and from DBL up to 100% of an employee’s average weekly wage for those employees earning up to $150,000 per year. For example:

  • An employee making $150,000 per year ($2,884.62 per week) may be eligible for:
    • $840.70 payment from PFL (60% of average weekly wage to the 2020 maximum benefit amount), and
    • $2,043.92 payment from DBL (a significant – temporary increase over the current maximum of $170/wk.)

Additionally, there is no waiting period for the commencement of DBL payments under these circumstances. PFL benefits may also be used to care for a dependent minor child under such a mandatory quarantine of isolation order; this provision does not apply in cases where the child’s school is closed and requires daycare.

The law also provides for the creation of a risk adjustment pool to help stabilize the DBL/PFL insurance carrier industry. Also, if federal COVID-19 benefits are approved, these state benefits would only apply if they would provide employee benefits in excess of what is available under federal law. Currently the US Congress is considering legislation that may expand the Family and Medical Leave Act and/or require paid sick days during the COVID-19 crisis.

The second component of this bill is a new, permanent employer mandate to provide job protected sick leave. This would take effect January 1, 2021. These provisions include:

  • Employees are to accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour per thirty hours worked; 
  • Employers of less than five employees must provide up to forty hours of unpaid sick leave in a calendar year, except those with net income of more than $1 million, which must provide up to forty hours of paid sick leave; 
  • Employers of 11 to 99 must provide forty hours of paid sick leave each calendar year; 
  • Employers of 100 or more must provide fifty-six hours of paid sick leave each year; 
  • Eligible uses are for care for the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition or of the employee’s “family member;” for diagnosis or care of medical issues; or for absences related to domestic violence, sexual offenses, stalking and/or human trafficking 
  • “Family member” is defined as an employee’s child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner; 
  • Sick time can be used “upon oral or written request of an employee.” 
  • Employers can set reasonable minimum increments of use, no to exceed four hours; 
  • Unused sick leave may be carried over into the following calendar year. Employers can limit the use of sick leave to forty hours (employers of less than one hundred) or fifty-six hours per year (employers of one hundred or more.); 
  • Employers are prohibited from discriminating against or taking any retaliatory action against any employee exercising their rights under this law; 
  • Employers with leave policies that encompass the amount of sick time required under this statute are not required to provide additional sick time as long as sick time may be used in the same way as proscribed in the statute; 
  • Upon request, employers are required to provide employees with a summary of their sick leave accrued and used in the current and previous calendar; 
  • The bill preempts all municipal sick leave ordinances other than New York City; 
  • Employers must maintain six years of records on sick leave provided to all employers.

As you can see, there is plenty of activity on both the state and federal level aimed at protecting the income of employees impacted by the coronavirus. We will keep you informed of these and any other relevant changes as they occur. Be sure to register for our webinar (below) where we will be discussing this new state law and recent federal developments.

 

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COVID-19: Taking Action & Gaining Control in Times of Extreme Crisis

domino blocks
By Tony Fareed, Managing Partner of 360accel

Our sense of normalcy is out the window and our lives seem to be changing daily, if not hourly. During times like these, business leaders will rightly turn their focus toward the health and safety of their families, friends, employees, partners, and broader communities.

For those of us who regularly watch the financial news networks, we’ve seen a daily onslaught of increasingly bad news that is impacting nearly every industry and the global economy. Organizations of all types and sizes are scrambling to respond to these unprecedented conditions by implementing business continuity plans.

Senior management teams are doing their best to manage through the unknowns and take appropriate steps to stabilize their businesses. Strong relationships with key partners, customers, bankers, and advisors are proving to be invaluable for many businesses as they work through these tough times.  

Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball that provides clarity on important questions:

·       How long will this crisis last?

·       What will the “new normal” be on the other side of the crisis?

·       What short, medium, and long-term impacts will this have on my business?

·       Will we have sufficient cash flow and access to capital to sustain the business during the crisis?  

The good news is that, at some point, COVID-19 will eventually be under control and economic activity will begin to improve. Unfortunately, some businesses may not make it through the crisis, but others will stay afloat by effectively reacting to the changing economic conditions.

Given the environment, some business leaders may be lulled into a “wait-and-see” mode, finding it difficult to do anything beyond reacting to daily pressures. But even in these hectic times, there are certain actions that management teams can efficiently undertake to be better equipped to make tough decisions during the likely treacherous road ahead.

Take Action / Gain Control

As you work to keep your business functioning, allocating time and resources to plan for the journey to the “new normal” may not be on your radar screen. However, prioritizing such a plan can help define likely scenarios and identify new strategies and tactics to mitigate risks and pursue potential opportunities.

Here are five actions you can remotely take with your team to formulate flexible planning, which could help navigate challenges during the coming weeks and months. If you haven’t already subscribed to a video collaboration tool, such as GoToMeeting or Zoom, go sign up!

1.       Define Likely Scenarios (Possibilities, Not Predictions): Use a 4-quadrant scenario analysis technique to define four unique scenarios that can be independently analyzed. Plot a pair of the most relevant uncertainties (one included on a horizontal line, the other on an intersecting vertical line). For example, manufacturers may want to apply low and high ranges for each of these two uncertainties: (1) access to goods, resources, and supply chain and (2) demand for their product(s). Another pair might be (1) access to adequate cash flow and capital and (2) access to a healthy workforce. Try different uncertainties to find the most appropriate pair for your business’ current situation.

 

2.       Ecosystem Analysis: Drill down on how each of the four scenario quadrants might impact your business and key market participants within your business’ ecosystem, such as suppliers, distributors, end-customers, competitors, lenders, regulators, etc. In addition to identifying potential cash flow related issues, this analysis can highlight areas for bolstered risk mitigation, as well as potential opportunities (e.g., new strategic partnerships, M&A, divestment, new products/services, etc.).

 

3.       Self-Assess / Team Alignment:  Put together a short 360° business self-assessment (i.e., a list of the most relevant aspects related to your business). Have select team members rank each item using a 3-point scale (e.g., weak/stable/strong) and provide short comments. These assessments (and perhaps more importantly, the team discussions around the assessments) should strengthen team alignment and uncover gaps and ideas that you may not be considering.

 

4.       Cash Flow Analysis: No doubt you have already started this analysis – consider bolstering what you have already done. Organize and analyze your historical performance and financial data as a basis to build a dynamic financial model with a variety of key variables/drivers that can be changed. This type of modeling tool can be used on an ongoing basis to quickly understand potential quantitative impacts under different scenarios and help you make informed decisions.

 

5.       Phone Early / Phone Often: Keep in touch with your bankers, customers, partners, advisors, and yes, consider reaching out to your competitors and other market participants. Information and the ability to collaborate with others will be invaluable. 

Time and resources are in short supply, so the analyses and planning don’t need to be overly complex – keep it simple and stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish. While this work won’t change the powerful forces that are out of your control, it should empower you with flexible planning and the ability to make quicker, better informed decisions.  Don’t lose time – leverage your team and start laying the groundwork to take action where you can. 

360accel is a specialized consulting platform with deep capabilities to help organizations anticipate and address risks, build stronger businesses, create value, and prepare for executing transaction/exit processes. Please contact us at info@360accel.com.

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