Effective Immediately, New York Law Requires Paid COVID-19 Vaccination Leave

On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed a bill requiring New York employers to provide employees with paid time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. For private employers, the applicable law will be Labor Law § 196-c. For public employers, this requirement will be codified in Civil Service Law § 159-c. The laws are effective immediately. 

Both laws require employers to provide a “sufficient period” of paid leave to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection, unless a collective bargaining agreement or an employer’s policies provide for a greater amount of leave. The vaccine leave must be paid at an employee’s regular rate of pay. For employees who receive a version of the COVID-19 vaccination requiring two injections, this law could allow a total of up to eight hours of paid leave. 

Importantly, employers are not permitted to charge this vaccine leave against any other leave their employees are otherwise entitled to receive, including leave under the New York State Paid Sick Leave law. The laws also prohibit discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests or obtains vaccine leave. 

Both laws took effect immediately upon signing and will expire on December 31, 2022.

Harter Secrest & Emery’s Labor and Employment attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have and to assist your organization in complying with these paid leave requirements. If you would like more information, contact any Labor and Employment team member at 585.232.6500 or 716.853.1616.

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