DOL releases paid leave guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations

The New York State Department of Labor has released guidance regarding paid leave for COVID-19 vaccinations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation (S.2588-A/A.3354-B) on March 12 requiring that employers provide up to four hours of paid time off to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

The following are some of the key FAQs addressed by the DOL:

  • Proof of vaccination. The law does not prohibit employers from requiring proof of vaccination. However, employers are encouraged to consider applicable confidentiality requirements before requesting such documentation.
  • Notice. The law does not prevent employers from requiring employees to provide notice before taking leave to get vaccinated.
  • Retroactivity. The law does not create a retroactive benefit to leave if an employee was vaccinated as of March 12, 2021.
  • Amount of leave. The maximum number of hours that an employee is entitled to paid leave depends on the number of required COVID-19 vaccine injections. Employees may take up to four hours of leave per vaccine injection. If a COVID-19 vaccine requires two injections, then the employee would be entitled to two periods of paid leave of up to four hours each (which could be up to eight hours total).
  • Employer coverage. Both public and private employers are covered.
  • Leave to assist another individual. An employee may only take leave under this law for his or her own vaccine injection, not for vaccination of a relative.
  • Pay rate. The law requires employees to be paid at their regular rate of pay.
  • Collective bargaining agreements. The rights afforded under this law may be waived in a collective bargaining agreement that specifically references Labor Law §196-c.

While the FAQs aim to provide clarity on the leave entitlement, questions remain unanswered, including what constitutes a “sufficient period of time” to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and whether an employee may take leave under the law due to symptoms or side effects associated with a vaccine injection.

The full guidance can be accessed on the DOL website.

On-demand webinar
The New York Credit Union Association’s recent complimentary webinar focusing on the potential employment implications related to COVID-19 vaccinations is accessible on-demand on the Association’s website. Registered participants will also have access to resources from the webinar.

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