On March 12, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation requiring all employers, both public and private sector, to provide employees with up to four hours of paid time off per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The law took effect immediately.
The law amends the New York State Civil Service Law to grant public officers and employees four hours of leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Most notably, the law also adds section 196-c to the New York Labor Law, including similar language for private employees. This means that New York employers are required to provide all employees with paid leaves of absence of up to eight hours to receive a two-dose vaccine. Employers may choose to provide more leave, either through collective bargaining or employer policies.
Employees are to be paid at their regular rate of pay for all leave granted under this law. In addition, employers are prohibited from charging this time against any other leave to which employees are entitled, including New York State paid sick or quarantine leave. The law also bars employers from retaliating against any employee who requests or takes leave to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. However, the law does not provide any guidance surrounding whether employers can provide less than the four hours or eight hours of paid time off if a smaller amount of time is sufficient, or whether employers can request proof of vaccination.
The law will expire and be deemed repealed on December 31, 2022. Employers in New York may wish to review the above requirements to ensure that their practices comply with the obligations articulated in the law.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.