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 12, 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): On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed the CARES Act, which provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but do not qualify for traditional Unemployment Insurance. Through the CARES Act, you will also be eligible to receive:

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.

On April 8, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed the State Department of Labor to immediately make $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits available to all New Yorkers. The additional benefits were included in the Federal CARES Act, but unlike other states, New York began delivering the extra unemployment insurance before Federal funds were disbursed to the states.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. This groundbreaking new measure will help ensure that New Yorkers are able to care for their family without jeopardizing their economic security and builds on the Governor’s unprecedented actions to protect and uplift workers and their families. 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.


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.