As we previously reported, the New York legislature passed a bill that requires employers to provide paid leave to employees to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law and, effective immediately, New York State employers must provide employees with up to four hours of paid time off per COVID-19 vaccination.
Specifically, the legislation grants both private and public employees up to four hours of paid leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Therefore, employees who receive a two-dose vaccine could potentially be entitled to up to eight hours of paid time off under the new law. The leave must be provided at the employee’s regular rate of pay and cannot be charged against any other leave to which the employee is entitled, including the recently enacted New York Paid Sick Leave Law.
Further, the bill prohibits an employer from discriminating against, retaliating against, or interfering with an employee exercising their rights under the law, including requesting paid leave to be vaccinated. The requirements of the law can be waived by a collective bargaining agreement if it explicitly references NYLL 196-C. The new law will expire on December 31, 2022.
Notably, the legislation is silent as to whether the employer is permitted to require the employee to:
- Provide notice of the absence;
- Provide proof of vaccination; and
- Schedule the vaccination outside of normal work hours or at a time when the absence presents the least disruption to work operations.
We expect the State to issue additional guidance regarding the new legislation and we will continue to follow developments. While we await further guidance, employers should update their policies to allow for the leave and implement a plan on how to handle requests for leave under the new law. Please reach out to ALG if you need any assistance with regard to the new legislation or any other employment related issues.