COVID-19 at Work


General Inquiries: Please contact the Tompkins County Workers’ via email at tcwrh@tcworkerscenter.org or via the Hotline at (607) 269-0409.

Should You Sign a COVID-19 Liability Waiver?

COVID-19 Related Health & Safety questions: Please contact the Tompkins County Environmental Health Division via email or by phone at (607) 274-6688. PLEASE NOTE that as of July 13, 2020, all customers as well as workers in a given workplace are required to wear face masks at all times. If a person/s are NOT wearing a face mask, please file complaint to the Tompkins County Health Department.

New York State Department of Labor COVID-19 Complaints: Please file a complaint if you feel that your workplace does not adhere to COVID-19 Regulations. Examples include: both workers and customers of your workplace ARE NOT being required to wear face masks; your employer is forcing you to work when you are sick, you are being forced to work when your business is not allowed to operate, your employer has threatened to fire you for COVID-19 related incidents, your employer has failed to pay you.


On March 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order waiving the 7-day waiting period for workers in shared work programs to claim unemployment insurance for those that have been put out of work by COVID-19.

File for unemployment in NY State

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security): The CARES Act provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but do not qualify for traditional Unemployment Insurance, as well as those who have exhausted their traditional unemployment benefits. On December 29, 2020, the federal government extended these unemployment benefits for an additional 11 weeks. Through the CARES Act, unemployed individuals are eligible to receive:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – Extended eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UI benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors);
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – An additional $600 per week for the benefit weeks ending April 5, 2020 to July 26, 2020 and $300 per week for the benefit weeks ending January 3, 2021 to March 14, 2021 on top of your regular benefits, to all PEUC and EB recipients;
  • Lost Wage Assistance – An additional $300 per week for the benefit weeks ending August 2, August 9, August 16, August 23, August 30, and September 6, for individuals collecting traditional UI (excluding those claiming PEUC or EB) during those weeks;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – An additional 24 weeks of benefits, as of January 1, 2021, for individuals who have exhausted the traditional 26 weeks of UI benefits and continue to be unemployed; and
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – An additional 20 weeks of benefits, for individuals who have exhausted all 26 weeks of traditional UI benefits and all 24 weeks of PEUC benefits and continue to be unemployed. There are two different scenarios that workers can be eligible for EB:
    1. If your benefit year for regular unemployment insurance expired after July 1, 2019 and you received the 13 weeks of PEUC benefits, or
    2. You transitioned to EB after receiving the initial 13 weeks of PEUC before the program was extended in December 2020.

The best way to apply is online. The Department of Labor has a streamlined application that allows you to apply for either traditional Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), depending on eligibility. You do not have to complete a separate application for PUA. You can submit an application here.

Guidance for Specific Professions:

If you have questions about your unemployment insurance claim, or need help filing a claim, contact the Department of Labor.


NYCLU Your Rights to a Safe Workplace

Organizing against unfair workplace regulations: You are protected in organizing against unfair work conditions, including work conditions affected by COVID-19 under Protected Concerted Activity

How employers of housekeepers, maids, domestic workers etc. can ensure safety for these workers


New York State will provide child care scholarships to essential workers. Child care costs will be covered for essential staff whose income is less than 300% of the federal poverty level — or $78,600 for a family of four. Essential workers (including health care providers, law enforcement, food delivery workers, grocery store employees and others) can use these scholarships to pay for their existing care arrangement. If an essential worker needs child care, they can contact their local child care referral agency to find openings.

If you are unable to return to work due to lack of childcare, contact your employer before such a delay to ensure you do not have to refuse work and possibly lose unemployment benefits.


Check these guidelines to make sure your office adheres to Center for Disease Control regulations.


On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed emergency legislation guaranteeing job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The new law enacts emergency paid sick leave to guarantee workers job protection and provide financial compensation while they are on a mandatory or precautionary quarantine due to the Coronavirus.

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), which took effect the same day as New York’s COVID-related leave law, provided workers across the country with job protection and wage supplements for COVID-19-related leave. While the Federal Act expired on December 31, 2020, New York State’s COVID-related leave law has no expiration date. Instead, the leave benefit is specifically tied to COVID-19 and therefore, for as long as employees are subject to COVID-related quarantine or isolation orders, they remain eligible for the benefits provided under the state’s law.

While the FFCRA also provided employees with partially-paid leave benefits for the purposes of caring for a child or family member who was quarantined due to COVID, New York State law has no similar provision. However, employees who are eligible for New York Paid Family Leave (having worked at least 20 hours per week for 26 consecutive weeks), can submit a claim for job-protected Paid Family Leave and receive paid time off benefits, if either (i) the employee’s child has been quarantined and the employee is unable to work remotely while caring for that child, or (ii) the employee is unable to work because the employee needs to care for a close family member who contracts COVID-19.


Testing is free to all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider or by calling the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test.

If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.

New, Less Intrusive Test: New York State’s Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a healthcare professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present.