March 19, 2021 • Jordan A. Fishman
Category: Legal Updates
On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed legislation granting both public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees are entitled to receive paid, job-protected leave “for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection” (i.e., 8 hours of total leave if receiving two shots) to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Leave must be paid at an employee’s regular rate of pay. This time is not charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. The legislation further provides that the right to leave can only be waived by a collective bargaining agreement, provided the agreement expressly references the newly created law. Finally, employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against any employee who requests or obtains paid leave pursuant to the legislation.
The new law is silent on what, if any, documentation an employer can request of employees to verify their authorized use of vaccination leave. The EEOC has issued guidance permitting employers to request vaccination proof from employees, with certain exceptions, but New York State has not opined on the subject to date.
The legislation takes effect immediately and sunsets on December 31, 2022. The legislation does not create a retroactive entitlement to leave, so any employees who were already vaccinated as of March 12, 2021, are not entitled to any additional paid leave.
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THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES A GENERAL SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE COMPREHENSIVE, NOR DOES IT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH COUNSEL BEFORE TAKING OR REFRAINING FROM TAKING ANY ACTION.