COVID-19 FAQ

I am being considered “essential.”  Why?

Notwithstanding a written agreement stating otherwise, the Employer designates who is essential and non-essential.  In fact, it is common for staff to be deemed essential one day and non-essential on another.  This categorization can be fluid, similar to the way each employer is responding to this pandemic.  With that said, the spirit of the Governor’s Executive Orders is to reduce the workforce in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.  If there is a legitimate question as to your “work” being considered essential, please contact your LRS who can document and advocate on your member’s behalf.

How long will we remain operating this way?

For now, as per the Governor’s latest Executive Order, until May 7, 2020.

I am not physically going into work.  Am I getting paid while my employer is closed?

Yes, EVERYONE should be getting paid during this time.  From the beginning, CSEA’s position has been and remains that any member who is unable to work because their employer is closed, or are under mandatory quarantine, shall receive full pay for their lost time.  It is no coincidence that the recent Governor Executive Orders and other State mandates have affirmed this.  Our CSEA political action team has been working non-stop to make sure the Governor’s Office is pressuring public employers to do the right thing.  It is imperative you contact CSEA if this is NOT happening.

Should I be getting extra pay (i.e. time and a half, hazard pay, emergency pay) if I’m considered essential and working?

Pay or benefit above your normal rate (excluding pay for time worked over 40 hours per week) is not guaranteed and varies from contract to contract. If you or members are unsure whether compensation is correct, please contact your LRS.

Can I collect unemployment?

At this time everyone should be getting paid; meaning, there should not be a need for unemployment assistance.  If you collect a check from unemployment while still on payroll with your employer, you may be responsible for paying it back.

Does my Employer have to keep 75% or 100% of the employees home?

No. The Executive Orders dictates that non-essential employers remain closed until May 7, 2020; however, municipalities are authorized to designate certain employees essential.  Those employees can be required to report to work following proper protocols, i.e. Social Distancing.  Non-essential employees who can work remotely can be required to do so.  All employees are required to be paid at this time.

Do all municipal buildings need to close if COVID-19 is detected in one?

The current protocol is for the building where the virus was found to be closed for 24 hours to allow for the appropriate cleaning.  Some employers opt to close all buildings for 24 hours in an abundance of caution.

My job title requires me to clean and/or collect garbage.  Do I have to clean and/or collect garbage in areas that may have been exposed to the virus?

Yes, but you must be provided appropriate personal protective equipment, supplies, and training (if applicable).  If you or your members are not, please contact the LRS immediately.  Note, if you are cleaning, any EPA/DEC registered product will disinfect surfaces of COVID-19.  For a list of these products, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/covid19.pdf.

Part of my responsibilities requires working with another person in a vehicle or area that seems restricted, given social distancing rules. Is this against the law?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued guidelines limiting face-to-face contact with others in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).  One of these guidelines is to stay 6 feet away from other people (social distancing).  Contact your LRS if your employer is failing to comply with the guidance on the following CDC site:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

Can I refuse to report to work because I am afraid of getting the virus?

No.  Unless your employer directs you to stay home, all normal attendance procedures are in place.

I have an underlying health condition and/or compromised immune system.  Do I have to go to work?

If you have any underlying health condition that makes you more likely to get sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, or a COVID-19 hotspot, or have traveled internationally within the last month, immediately let your Employer know that you are not comfortable with the assignment that may expose you or others to COVID-19 due to your particular circumstance.  You should consult with your LRS if you wish to seek a reasonable accommodation, or if your concerns are not otherwise addressed appropriately.

A coworker tested positive and my employer is not disclosing who it is.  How do I know if I was a contact?  Should I quarantine?

Public employers are still subject to HIPAA rules and regulations and, therefore, should not disclose personal medical information, even as it pertains to COVID-19.  Your employer, although, has the obligation to notify anyone who may have been a potential contact of a confirmed positive.  Please see the Department of Health guidance when COVID-19 is identified:

https://hcr.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/contacts-of-contacts-guidance-doh.pdf.

I think I have been exposed.  What should I do?  Do I get paid to quarantine?

All public employers (such as towns, public schools, public colleges or universities, districts, counties, cities, villages, fire districts and the state), must provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave, regardless of how many employees they have, to an employee who has been ordered to quarantine.  Please see how to obtain an order by visiting: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/obtaining-order-of-quarantine.pdf.

I’m able to work from home but I’m under a mandatory or precautionary quarantine.  Am I eligible for quarantine leave?

No, if you are not showing symptoms and are physically able to work through remote access or similar means you are not eligible for quarantine leave.

How many days of quarantine leave are part-time employees required to be paid for?

Part-time employees should be paid for the number of days/amount of time during 5 or 14 day period that they are required to receive pay that they would have otherwise received had the employer’s operations continued in its normal due course.

I was exposed or confirmed positive for COVID-19.  Can I come back to work before the 14 days?

Yes.  Essential Personnel who have been confirmed with COVID-19, exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or suspected of having COVID-19, can be permitted to return to the workplace setting before 14 days, given certain conditions are met.  Please find Department of Health guidance on protocols for essential personnel to return to work by visiting: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/04/doh_covid19_essentialpersonnelreturntowork_rev2_033120.pdf.

I was diagnosed with Coronavirus.  Can I file a Workers’ Compensation claim?

Yes, workers can file for Workers’ Compensation benefits if they have contracted the coronavirus from an accident or occupational disease that arises out of the course of their employment.

On behalf of the Region, thank you for your continued service and dedication to our members.

Stay union, stay strong, stay safe!

Jerry Laricchiuta, Region President   &   Miguelangel F. Cruz, Region Director
CSEA Long Island Region
3 Garet Place
Commack, NY 11725
Phone: 631-462-0030
Fax: 631-462-0039

[email protected] / [email protected]

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