Updated on August 8, 2022: New York extended its mandatory paid COVID-19 vaccine leave requirements to December 31, 2023.

Updated – New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) updated its guidance to confirm that paid COVID-19 vaccination applies to any COVID-19 vaccination received by an employee, including booster shots. New York employers should immediately update any COVID-related paid sick leave policies to reflect this updated guidance.

UPDATED – On March 21, 2021, the New York Department of Labor released guidance in the form Frequently Asked Questions. This article has been updated to include additional information provided in the guidance.

On March 12, Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S2588A (the “Bill” or “Act”) which amends New York Labor Law and mandates that employers provide up to four hours of paid COVID-19 vaccine leave (NY Vaccine Leave) for all New York employees. The leave is the first “paid vaccine leave” to be signed into law in the United States. It is available immediately and will expire on December 31, 2022.

Who must provide NY Vaccine Leave?

All private employers with at least one employee in New York state.

Who is eligible for NY Vaccine Leave?

Any employee working in New York state.

What is the Amount of Leave?

Every employee must be provided a paid leave of absence for a sufficient period of time (up to four hours) per injection, to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This means that employees who receive a two-dose vaccine may be entitled to eight hours of paid leave under the Act.

What is the Rate of Pay?

The leave must be provided at an employee’s regular rate of pay.

Can an Employer Offset other Paid Sick Leave?

No. NY Vaccine Leave is “in addition to” any other leave that the employee is entitled to and cannot count against those existing leave entitlements, including New York Quarantine Leave or any leave accrued under New York State Paid Sick Leave or New York City Paid Sick Leave law. The Act does not address whether employees who have already received the vaccine and used sick leave under an employer’s existing sick or vacation policy, or paid sick time under New York State or New York City leave laws, are entitled to those hours being time restored.

Can an Employer Require Leave Documentation?

The Act is silent on whether an employer may require documentation from employees requesting and taking COVID-19 vaccine leave. It is anticipated that the New York Department of Labor will release guidance on this issue.

Is there a Notice Requirement?

The Act is silent on whether an employer is required to notify their employees of the availability of NY Vaccine Leave. However, as a practical matter and best practice, employers should consider informing their employees of their right to paid leave as soon as possible, given the Act became effective immediately.

What if an Employee Took Time Off to Get a Vaccine prior to March 12, 2021?

This law does not create any retroactive benefit rights and only employees receiving vaccinations on or after March 12, 2021 are eligible for paid leave. However, nothing in the law prevents employers from voluntarily providing employees with such benefits retroactively.

Are there any Employer Prohibitions?

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against any employee because such employee has requested leave, taken leave, or exercised their rights under the Act.

Employer Considerations

New York employers should review their existing paid leave policies relating to COVID-19 in light of this new mandate.

It is anticipated that the New York Department of Labor will release additional guidance on the Act to address outstanding questions and issues. This article will be updated as we continue to learn more.

Additional Resources

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2021 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.