New York City Council Passes COVID-19 Child Vaccination Leave

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign a bill passed by City Council that requires employers to provide workers with paid time off to get their children vaccinated or care for them if they suffer vaccine side effects.

When enacted, the legislation will amend the City’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Act to provide employees with “COVID-19 child vaccination time,” which is an additional four hours of paid leave to accompany their child to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or care for them if they have a reaction to the vaccine. Specifically, this law will require employers to provide employees who are parents or legal guardians of a child who is under 18 years old (or an older child who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability) with an additional four hours of paid leave, per injection, for COVID-19 child vaccinations. This leave cannot be charged against an employee’s accrual of safe/sick time under State or City law. The parent/guardian could use the additional four hours of COVID-19 child vaccination time to accompany their child to receive the vaccine or care for the child if they suffer side effects. COVID-19 child vaccination time must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay (calculated without a tip credit or tip allowance). Tipped employees do not need to be compensated for the tips they would have earned had they not taken this leave. Employers must pay employees who take leave under this new law by the next regular pay date after the leave is taken.

Employers may require employees to provide up to, but no more than seven (7) days’ advance notice of the need for time off. An employer also cannot require the employee to work additional hours to make up for the original hours, nor can they require employees to find a replacement employee to cover the missed hours. Within seven (7) days after the leave is taken, employers can require employees to provide documentation that their child was vaccinated, and employers may discipline employees for using COVID-19 child vaccination time for purposes other than those described in the law.

Employers may be subject to penalties for failing to provide COVID-19 child vaccination time. In fact, for each instance of COVID-19 child vaccination time taken by an employee but not compensated by the employer, the employee may be awarded three times the wages that should have been paid or $250, whichever is greater. The employee may also be awarded $500 for each instance when an employer denies an employee COVID-19 child vaccination time or charges it against their paid safe/sick time accruals.

The law takes effect immediately but contains a 60-day phase-in period during which the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection would give written notice and allow for a 15-day cure period before fining employers who do not provide the new COVID-19 vaccination leave. The law will expire and be deemed repealed on December 31, 2022. However, while it remains in effect, the bill provides relief to employees where the employer violates this new requirement.

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