On March 12, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill (A3354B) mandating that employers provide their employees with paid time off to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Specifically, employees shall receive “a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours” per vaccine dose, and be paid at their regular rate of pay for the entire leave period. For employees receiving the 2-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, they will be eligible for up to eight hours of paid leave.
The new law, which amends New York’s existing Labor Law and applies to both public and private employers, includes the following notable provisions:
1. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under this law.
2. Employees may be entitled to more than four hours of time off per vaccine, pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement (or as otherwise authorized by the employer), to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
3. Any leave taken to receive the COVID-19 vaccine must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay and may not be counted against any other paid leave to which an employee is entitled, such as paid sick leave, unless these provisions of the law are waived in a collective bargaining agreement that explicitly references this new law.
4. This provision of the NY Labor Law will remain in effect until December 31, 2022, the date upon which it is deemed to be repealed.
Employers are encouraged to review their paid leave policies, including those relating to COVID-19, and update any existing payroll processes to ensure compliance with the law.
If you have questions about this new law or if you would like assistance updating your policies, please contact a member of our employment team:
Lorna Hebert (New England team) is an employment, labor, higher education, and litigation attorney with nearly 30 years of experience handling a broad range of complex employment and labor matters. Lorna advises clients on a wide range of employment matters, including workplace investigations, dispute resolution, hiring, performance management, discipline, terminations, reorganizations, accommodations, employee benefits, wage and hour issues, discrimination claims, policies and procedures, and training.
Patricia Lantzy (Washington D.C. team) is a labor and employment attorney with more than 25 years of experience. Trish works with a wide range of clients, from individual executives and small businesses to the Fortune 500, on employment-related issues across the employee lifecycle, including recruiting, hiring, workplace harmony and leave issues, performance and discipline/discharge, corporate reorganizations and reductions in force.
Natasha Lipcan (New York team) is an employment law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing private employers in a broad range of employee-related matters. She handles a wide range of employment issues, including employment law compliance, organizational change, diversity and inclusion, employment-related agreements, arbitrations and litigations, wage and hour, workplace training and policies, and recruiting, hiring, managing and terminating employees.