On March 12, 2021 Governor Cuomo signed a bill amending Article 6 of the New York Labor Law, entitling both private and public employees up to four hours of paid leave (at the employee’s regular rate of pay) per COVID-19 vaccine injection.
Under this new law all New York employers, regardless of size, are required to provide a paid leave of absence to employees for a “sufficient period of time” but no longer than four hours per injection. The total number of hours of leave to which an employee is entitled depends upon which vaccine the employee will be receiving, as follows:
Leave for vaccinations must be provided in addition to the sick leave, vacation, or other paid time off to which an employee is otherwise entitled. Employers cannot deduct from an employee’s paid time off bank for this leave. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who take leave to get vaccinated. At this time there is no additional guidance on leave for any additional injections that might be recommended in the future.
The legislation fails to clarify some important considerations. For example, the Department of Labor has not yet issued guidance on whether an employer can require proof of vaccination in connection with this paid leave. Furthermore, the law does not impose notice requirements for employees, but it does not prohibit an employer from requiring notice so employers will need to develop their own guidelines. Finally, the law does not include retroactive language, so employers must decide whether to restore an employee's paid time off used before the new law to receive a vaccine.
The right to the vaccination leave can only be waived by a collective bargaining agreement, provided that the agreement expressly references this new amendment. The bill also provides that a collective bargaining agreement can provide for a longer leave for vaccination. Regardless, employers will need to review the requirements of the new law to ensure that its existing practices comply.
This amendment is effective immediately and is set to expire on December 31, 2022.
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This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC