Paid COVID-19 Vaccination Leave
On March 12, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S2588A/A3354B) granting public and private employees paid leave in order to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The new law, which went into effect immediately, gives employees up to four (4) hours of paid leave per injection. Therefore, employees who receive a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two (2) injections are entitled to take up to eight (8) hours of paid time off.
The new law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who take paid time off, or request to take time off, to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The law also provides that:
- COVID-19 vaccination leave must be paid at an employee’s regular rate of pay;
- The leave “shall not be charged against any other leave,” which means that COVID-19 vaccination leave cannot be charged against any other paid leave the employee is entitled to take, including, but not limited to, paid sick leave under the New York State or New York City law; and
- The requirements may be waived by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), so long as the CBA expressly references the new law.
Importantly, it is not clear whether the bill retroactively applies to employees who took paid leave to get a COVID-19 vaccine prior to March 12, 2021.
The new law is currently set to expire on December 31, 2022. New York employers should review their policies on paid leave immediately. It is expected that the New York State Department of Labor will be issuing guidance regarding the new law, so employers should stay tuned for more developments.
Termination of Quarantine Requirements for Domestic Travel
On March 11, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that domestic travelers (regardless of vaccination status) will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York State, effective April 1, 2021. That being said, the New York Department of Health still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution.
Regardless of the above, all individuals returning from travel still must:
- Continue to monitor symptoms for fourteen (14) days;
- Practice strict adherence to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, including, but not limited to, hand hygiene and the use of face coverings for fourteen (14) days (even if fully vaccinated); and
- Immediately self-isolate if any COVID-19 symptoms develop and contact the local public health authority or their healthcare provider to report such change in clinical status and determine if testing is appropriate.
Starting on April 1, 2021, New York employers may choose to revisit their travel policies as a result of the above updated guidance. Employers should consult with counsel in making any revisions to such policies.