1. The Laws of New York
  2. Consolidated Laws
  3. Labor
  4. Article 7: General Provisions


Section 202-M Healthcare professionals who volunteer to fight the Ebola virus disease overseas

Labor (LAB)

Healthcare professionals who volunteer to fight the Ebola virus disease overseas. 1. Findings and policy of the state. It is hereby found and declared that the Ebola virus disease is a rare and potentially deadly disease caused by infection with one of four Ebola virus strains known to cause disease in humans, that the World Health Organization has declared that the current Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and that the centers for disease control and prevention of the United States department of health and human services has reported that the number of future Ebola virus disease cases will reach extraordinary levels without a scale-up of interventions. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to work with its international partners to help eradicate the Ebola virus disease by supporting the dedicated New York state healthcare professionals who seek to provide invaluable help to this effort.

  2. Bill of rights. A healthcare professional who volunteers to fight Ebola is protected by existing state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of an actual or perceived disability. Upon return from fighting Ebola overseas, a healthcare professional will be provided with a bill of rights outlining these existing anti-discrimination laws. In addition to these existing anti-discrimination laws, and in accordance with the provisions of this section, healthcare professionals shall have the right to seek a leave of absence to volunteer to fight Ebola overseas without adverse employment consequences.

  3. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

  (a) "Employee" means any individual healthcare professional who performs services for hire for an employer but shall not include an independent contractor.

  (b) "Employer" means a person or entity that employs a healthcare professional and includes an individual, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, nonprofit organization, group of persons, county, town, city, school district, public authority, state agency, or other governmental subdivision of any kind.

  (c) "Fight Ebola" means to serve as a healthcare professional in a country that has been classified as having widespread transmission of the Ebola virus disease by the centers for disease control and prevention of the United States department of health and human services.

  (d) "Healthcare professional" means:

  (i) a physician licensed pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one of the education law;

  (ii) a physician assistant licensed pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one-B of the education law;

  (iii) a nurse practitioner licensed pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of the education law;

  (iv) a registered professional nurse licensed pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of the education law; and

  (v) other healthcare professions as added by the commissioner pursuant to subdivision thirteen of this section.

  (e) "Leave of absence" means time away from work that is excused. Such time shall be unpaid, unless the employee requests that such time, or a portion thereof, be paid pursuant to a charge against paid leave that has accrued to such employee.

  (f) "Undue hardship" means an absence requiring significant expense or difficulty, including a significant interference with the safe or efficient operation of the workplace or a violation of a bona fide seniority system. Factors to be considered in determining whether an absence constitutes an undue economic hardship shall include, but not be limited to the identifiable cost of the absence, including the costs of loss of productivity and of retraining, hiring or transfer of employees, in relation to the size and operating costs of the employer and other known or reasonably foreseeable absences, the overall financial resources of the employer, the number of employees at the employee's facility, the employee's role within the facility, the type of operation of the employer, including the structure and functions of the employee within it, the impact on the operation of the employer, and the employer's ability to hire temporary or new employees with the requisite skills to ensure the employer's continued operations.

  (g) "Volunteer" means to freely offer services to fight Ebola and includes such services without regard to whether they are compensated.

  5. Duration of the leave of absence. (a) The duration of the leave of absence shall be the full time period requested by the employee, which shall include travel time, service volunteering to fight Ebola, and a reasonable period of rest and recovery. If the employer determines that an absence for that full period of time would constitute an undue hardship, the employer and employee shall work together to determine whether there is a shorter period of time that would not constitute an undue hardship that would still allow the employee to volunteer to fight Ebola. If the employer and employee agree on a shorter period, that shall be the duration of the leave of absence under this paragraph. Otherwise, if they are unable to agree on a shorter period, the leave of absence shall be deemed denied.

  (b) The duration of leave of absence, as determined pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subdivision shall be extended to include any additional period of time that the employee becomes subject to a mandatory quarantine period imposed at the end of the employee's voluntary service to fight Ebola.

  6. Leave of absence request. An employee's request for a leave of absence pursuant to this section shall be made, in writing, to his or her employer at least twenty-one days prior to the employee's proposed start date of such leave of absence. The employee's request shall, at a minimum:

  (a) identify the duration of leave sought, including the anticipated start and end dates of the volunteer service, together with any additional time sought for transportation and for rest prior to returning to work;

  (b) identify the service to be volunteered, including the country and the organization with whom the employee will be volunteering; and

  (c) certify that such service constitutes volunteering to fight Ebola, within the meaning of this section.

  7. Notarization. Upon the employer's request, an employee who has been granted a leave of absence in accordance with this section shall provide his or her employer with a notarized statement from the organization or entity with whom the employee will be volunteering. The statement shall:

  (a) identify the anticipated start and end dates of the volunteer service and the terms of service, including any compensation and benefits to be provided;

  (b) identify the service to be volunteered, including the country and the organization with whom the employee will be volunteering; and

  (c) certify that such service constitutes volunteering to fight Ebola, within the meaning of this section.

  8. Benefits during leave. Employees who take leave under this section shall be restored at the completion of such leave to the same or comparable position without loss of seniority, shall be entitled to participate in insurance or other benefits offered by the employer pursuant to established rules and practices relating to employees on furlough or leave of absence in effect with the employer at the time such employee made request to take leave of absence as provided in this section.

  9. Retaliation prohibited. An employer shall not retaliate against an employee for requesting or obtaining a leave of absence as provided by this section.

  10. Retention of benefits. The provisions of this section shall not affect or prevent an employer from providing leave in addition to leave allowed under any other provision of law. The provisions of this section shall not affect an employee's rights with respect to any other employee benefit provided by law, rule or regulation.

  11. Collective bargaining. Nothing set forth in this section shall be construed to impede, infringe, or diminish the rights and benefits that accrue to employees through bona fide collective bargaining agreements, or otherwise diminish the integrity of an existing collective bargaining agreement.

  12. Review of denial of leave. An employee whose request for leave under this section has been denied may petition the commissioner for review of such denial, which review shall be expeditiously conducted.

  13. Rules and regulations. The commissioner shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of this section.

  * NB Repealed December 1, 2021