News & Resources

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COVID-19 Impact on State and Local Payroll

BY: Lia Coniglio, Esq. and Mavanee Anderson, Esq. | 03/30/20

As employers respond to the COVID-19 national emergency, payroll professionals must ensure they are also in compliance with state and local payroll laws. The following areas have been impacted by COVID-19.

Paid Sick Leave

Many state and local (county, city) paid sick leave (PSL) laws have clauses for public health emergencies and school closings in addition to provisions for an employee’s own or a family member’s diagnosis or treatment. In addition, many jurisdictions with PSL laws (states, counties, cities) have provided updated guidance specific to COVID-19. Colorado has issued an emergency order providing up to four days of emergency PSL in certain industries. New York has enacted legislation that provides for PSL and the use of paid family leave (PFL) and state disability insurance (SDI) for COVID-19.

State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave

California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island have SDI programs that can provide short-term benefit payments to employees unable to work because of non-work-related exposure to or a diagnosis of COVID-19. Most SDI programs require medical certification from a treating physician, but this may not be the situation with COVID-19. Rhode Island, for example, is allowing employees under quarantine to provide self-attestation.

Most state PFL programs allow an employee to take time off of work to care for an ill family member with certification from a medical professional. In the case of COVID-19, if an employee’s family member is quarantined at a medical professional’s instruction, the employee might qualify for PFL benefits.

Predictive Scheduling Requirements

Reporting time, on-call, and predictive scheduling laws still apply, unless amended or temporarily suspended. Many states and localities are issuing updated guidance, including California, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

State Unemployment Insurance

As states are able to relax requirements to give more workers access to unemployment insurance benefits, guidance is being issued to ensure that employer tax rates will not be affected.

State Withholding Tax Relief

Some state agencies have begun offering employers relief for late filing of withholding returns and late payment of withholding taxes due to COVID-19. These states include California, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, and South Carolina. The number of states offering this type of relief will likely grow in the coming weeks.

Learn more about how the follow areas are impacted by COVID-19 on the state and local level in Issue 6 of PayState Update.


Lia Coniglio, Esq., is Managing Editor of PayState Update and Manager of State Payroll Information Resources for the APA.

Mavanee Anderson, Esq., is Editor of PayState Update and Editor of Payroll Information Resources for the APA