Back in March 2021, when it wasn’t easy for many people to get an appointment for an inoculation against COVID-19, New York State created an incentive for employees to get vaccinated. A new provision was added to the Labor Law, requiring employers to provide paid leave time to employees to obtain each dose. As we previously noted, this statute was intended to sunset on December 31, 2022. However, as this year’s busy legislative session wound down, a bill extending the provision was delivered to Governor Kathy Hochul, who signed off on a 12-month extension of the law’s effective date, through December 31, 2023. Thus, New York employers will be required to provide their employees up to four hours of paid time off for each COVID-19 shot through (at least) the end of next year.
Does this even matter if everyone is already vaccinated?
It does, since the law applies to time needed for any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whether a first-time injection or a second booster. Although the Department of Labor has not yet updated its guidance to reflect the new expiration date of Labor Law § 196-c, the FAQs were revised after their original issuance to clarify that the law applies to booster shots. Accordingly, if employees (or the CDC or their medical advisers) determine that it’s time for another dose, their employers will be obligated to give them the time needed (up to four hours) to get the shot.
Note, also, that this mandatory leave provision requires employers to provide paid leave, separate and apart from any leave requirements under New York’s Paid Sick Leave or COVID-19 Paid Leave laws, which do not have sunset provisions. New York City employers must also provide up to four hours to care for a child receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, though December 31, 2022.