As many employers and employees in the State of New York know, when an individual files claims for unemployment insurance benefits, New York Labor Law, Section 590, Subdivision 7, has a mandatory seven day waiting period before unemployment benefits may be paid.

On March 7, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.1, declaring a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York (the “Order”). The Order, which is entitled “Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency,” suspends and modifies many existing laws.

This morning, Governor Cuomo signed the Order suspending New York Labor Law, Section 590, Subdivision 7. Thus, effective immediately, employers that have employees in their workforce that are (1) quarantined, sick, or have been directed not to report to work due to COVID-19; and (2) are not being paid by their employer (because the work is not the type that can be done remotely, or because the business has closed, either temporarily or permanently, and has no revenue because of COVID-19), should advise their employees that they may immediately file/apply for unemployment benefits.

The specific relevant language in the Order is:

Suspension of law relating to waiting periods for unemployment insurance claimants whose claims arise directly out of COVID-19 outbreak:

Subdivision 7 of Section 590 of the Labor Law, so far as it relates to the waiting period for unemployment insurance claimants whose claims for unemployment insurance arise directly out of closings of schools or other workplaces in which claimants were employed, or out of claimants’ isolation or quarantine in connection with COVID-19.

Employees should be directed to for additional information regarding their ability to file for unemployment benefits.