COVID-19 Helpline & Resources

The Center for Frontline Retail and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) have launched a joint helpline to connect retail workers to essential resources during the COVID-19 crisis.

Call our main line at 646-918-6907 and you’ll be connected to a staff member of the Center for Frontline Retail or the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). We’ll walk you through the process of accessing the resources you’re entitled to, and answer your questions about COVID-19.

Resource Hub

There are many resources available to workers affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. See a full list at Health Free NYC, and additional resources for workers at Georgetown Law.

Email us at info@frontlineretail.org to request more information or schedule a call with one of our staff members to get assistance accessing these benefits and services. 

UNEMPLOYMENT

Workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (such as after a layoff) are eligible for unemployment benefits. Workers are eligible for partial unemployment if they work less than four days in a week and earn $504 or less. (Learn more HERE.) 

Workers who are ready, willing, and able to work, and actively looking for work during each week in which they are claiming benefits can register for unemployment online. As of now, NYS is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to coronavirus (COVID-19) closures or quarantines.

The day you should file is based on the first letter of your last name. Last names starting with A–F file on Monday. Last names starting with G–N file on Tuesday. Last names starting with O–Z file on Wednesday. If you missed your filing day, file on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

CASH ASSISTANCE

Apply for federal cash assistance online at ACCESS HRA. Eligible families may receive up to 60 months of federally funded cash assistance under the Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program (TANF). Single individuals without children and families who have already received cash assistance for 60 months may receive benefits under the New York State Safety Net Program.

The One Fair Wage Emergency Fund provides cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they aren’t getting to survive.

Restaurant workers can also access ROC United’s Disaster Relief Fund.

FOOD PANTRIES

Any New Yorker can get three free meals a day at more than 400 Meal Hubs across the city. Find a site to pick up food by texting “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877, or visit the Department of Education’s website.

Use the Plentiful app to find pantries and get the food you need without waiting in line.

Apply for SNAP food benefits online at ACCESS HRA. For SNAP enrollment assistance and food pantry information, call Make the Road New York at 1-866-365-2724. Listen to the options and leave a voicemail. A member of the Health Team will return your call within a few days. 

HEALTH CARE & INSURANCE

Call the New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

For health insurance enrollment and navigation, call Make the Road New York at 1-866-365-2724. Listen to the options and leave a voicemail. A member of the Health Team will return your call within a few days.

You can also receive health insurance enrollment and navigation services from the Community Service Society. Call them at (888) 614-5400, or email enroll@cssny.org.

MENTAL HEALTH

For emotional support, call NYS’s COVID-19 helpline at (844) 863-9314.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of suicide, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

HOUSING

Effective Monday, March 16th, evictions and hearings are all suspended indefinitely. You can still access housing court for illegal lockouts, housing code violations and repair orders.

    • Met Council on Housing Hotline: 212-979-0611
    • Housing Court Answers’ Hotline: 212-962-4795
    • Hotline for tenants: 212-979-0611

REPORTING HATE CRIMES

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have been experiencing microaggressions, racial profiling, and violence in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. AAPI New Yorkers can report incidents on the STOP AAPI HATE online form created by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) and Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).

New Yorkers can also report hate crimes to the Attorney General by emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov, or calling 1 (800) 771-7755.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE

Email TakeRoot Justice at workerintake@takerootjustice.org if your application for unemployment benefits was denied or your you’re trying to access emergency sick leave. If you’re an undocumented worker, they can also help you figure out whether the new benefits apply to you.

YOUR RIGHT TO PAID SICK LEAVE

As a New York City worker, you have the right to paid safe and sick leave. When using sick leave, make sure to tell your employer that you are using your earned sick leave; otherwise, they can decide you were just calling out for the day, and not pay you for your time.

    • Employers with 5 or more employees must offer paid sick leave to their employees who’ve worked 80+ hours in a calendar year
    • Employers with 1–4 employees must offer unpaid sick leave to their employees who’ve worked 80+ hours in a calendar year
    • You earn 1 hour of paid sick leave for each 30 hours you’ve worked
    • You can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year
    • Your employer must keep a record of how much paid sick leave you’ve earned
    • *NOTE* You may use paid sick leave when your employer’s business closes due to a public health emergency or you need to care for a child whose school or child care provider closed due to a public health emergency!

New York City’s paid sick and safe leave laws also protect workers seeking services, legal remedies, or are otherwise protecting themselves or a family member who may be the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence or unwanted sexual physical contact, stalking, or human trafficking.

COVID-19 PAID SICK LEAVE

Effective as of April 2, 2020,  some New York workers will also have access to COVID-19 paid sick leave. Some employers in New York State are now required to provide at least five days of job protected, paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave because they or their minor dependent child are under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. 

Workers are eligible for this leave if…

    1. … the worker is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
    2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
    3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
    5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
    6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Workers are eligible for paid sick days depending on the business’s size and income.

    • Businesses with 1–10 employees (as of 4/1/20) making $1,000,000 or less in 2019 are not required to provide new paid sick days. Instead, workers can use Paid Family Leave and disability benefits to take time off from work due to the coronavirus.
    • Businesses with 1–10 employees (as of 4/1/20) making over $1,000,000 in 2019 must provide at least five paid sick days.
    • Businesses with 11–99 employees (as of 4/1/20) must provide at least five paid sick days.
    • Businesses with 100 or more employees (as of 4/1/20) must provide at least 14 paid sick days.

If you feel you were laid off before the April 1, 2020 deadline so that your employer did not need to provide paid sick leave, contact us at info@frontlineretail.org.

WORKPLACE LABOR VIOLATIONS

If you have noticed any of the following practices, you should file a complaint with the Department of Labor. 

    • You qualify for COVID-19 paid sick leave (effective as of April 2, 2020) and your employer refuses to pay it
    • You are being directed to work at a non-essential business
    • Your employer has failed to pay your earned sick pay or paid time off
    • Your employer has failed to pay your earned wages or pay for all of the hours you worked
    • Your employer has threatened or fired you for reasons related to COVID-19
    • Your employer is forcing you to work when you are sick
    • You know about a business that is non-essential and is operating

For more legal information about your rights in the workplace, check out Outten & Golden LLP’s COVID-19 FAQ

Staying Healthy and Informed

Check out these essential resources to find out how you can avoid becoming ill from COVID-19 and support your community’s health.

CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act

The federal government has passed a bill expanding protections and benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. Gothamist reports the bill offers the following:

  • Single people with a social security number earning under $75,000 and married couples with a combined income up to $150,000 will soon receive a one-time check of $1,200. Parents who meet that standard will get an additional $500 per child up to 16 years old.
  • Those accessing unemployment will receive $600 on top of their weekly benefits for up to four months. The benefit will be broadened to include those who don’t typically qualify for unemployment, including part-time workers, gig workers, and freelancers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Additional unemployment benefits will be available for 39 weeks, which should carry workers through the end of 2020.

However, the bill explicitly excludes undocumented immigrants and mixed status families, including those who pay taxes. The bill also funnels $500 billion to states and corporations, with little restriction on how the money is used; progressive nonprofits are expecting the Trump administration will be directing that funding to inflate the wallets of CEOs and shareholders, rather that support the working people who are most greatly impacted by the pandemic.