November 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 332


New York State Passes Bill Granting Employees Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations

The New York state legislature passed Bill S2588A/A3354B, which would amend the New York Labor Law to grant employees paid leave time for the COVID-19 vaccination.  Below is a brief summary of what New York employers need to know about the legislation which, if signed by Governor Cuomo, would take effect immediately.

Under the proposed bill, employers would be required to provide employees with “a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours” per vaccine dose, to be vaccinated for COVID-19.  This time must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay for the entire leave period.  The bill would also prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who request or take a leave of absence to be vaccinated for COVID-19, or who otherwise exercise their rights under this law.

Currently, the FDA has authorized the use of three vaccines: the Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. vaccines, which each require two doses, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose.  This means that employees who receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine would be eligible for up to eight hours of paid leave to receive both injections.  Employers should be aware, however, that an employee may be entitled to more time off under the proposed bill if a collective bargaining agreement or other authorization by the employer would grant them more hours of paid leave to receive the vaccine.  Notably, the provisions of the bill may only be waived by a collective bargaining agreement that explicitly references the new provision of the New York labor law.  The bill further provides that any leave time taken to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may not be charged against any other leave that the employee is entitled to take (including, e.g., paid sick leave under the New York State or New York City sick leave laws).

As noted above, if signed by Governor Cuomo, the bill will take effect immediately and would expire on December 31, 2022.  Given Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive plan to vaccinate all New Yorkers quickly and safely, as well as his support for a similar paid leave plan in his 2021 State of the State Agenda, New York employers should review their policies on paid leave, especially as it relates to COVID-19, and be prepared to make necessary revisions to comply with the law.  We will continue to report on any further developments with regard to this law and other similar leave laws nationwide.

© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 67

About this Author

Evandro Gigante Labor and Employment Lawyer Proskauer Rose Law FIrm

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of sexual harassment, race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force, employee relations issues and other sensitive employment matters.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment claims,...

Harris M Mufson, Class/Collective Action Attorney, Proskauer
Senior Counsel

Harris Mufson is a senior associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration and Whistleblowing & Retaliation Groups.

Adept at counseling clients at every turn of the litigation process, Harris represents employers in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, entertainment, sports and legal, with respect to a wide range of labor and employment law matters. These include compensation disputes, employment discrimination and retaliation, whistleblowing,...

Arielle Kobetz, Proskauer Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Arielle Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department. She assists employers in a wide range of areas, including discrimination, wage and hour, and traditional labor.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Arielle served as a law clerk at the New York City Human Resources Administration, Employment Law Unit, where she worked on a variety of employment discrimination and internal employee disciplinary issues. 

Law Clerk

Julia Hollreiser is a law clerk in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.

Related Practices

  • Labor & Employment
  • Employment Litigation & Arbitration