On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a new law requiring public and private employers to provide paid leave for any employee receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Under the new law, employers must provide their employees up to four hours (or, if greater, such time as an employee is entitled to receive pursuant to a collectively bargained agreement or as otherwise authorized by the employer) of paid time off per vaccine injection at their regular pay rate. The paid leave cannot be deducted against any other leave such employee is otherwise entitled, such as sick leave. Additionally, the new law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees for requesting or taking leave to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
This legislation takes effect immediately and will expire on December 31, 2022. The law does not require employees to provide proof of a vaccination appointment; however, employers are not prohibited from requesting such proof. Employers should be careful to maintain compliance with other health and privacy laws. The new law may be waived by a collective bargaining agreement, provided that for such waiver to be valid, it must explicitly reference the law.
This new legislation, although temporary, joins a myriad of other recently enacted New York sick leave and emergency paid sick leave laws. In September 2020, New York enacted a sick leave law requiring employers to track employee accrual of sick leave depending on certain factors (discussed here). Additionally, the New York State Department of Labor issued guidance in January regarding paid COVID-19 Leave (discussed here).
For further information or guidance on how this law may affect your business, or for assistance in revising your policies and procedures in accordance with this law, please contact David Paseltiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.