March 18, 2021
Effective March 12, 2021, New York employers must provide up to four hours of paid leave per dose for employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Employers who continue to offer employees leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) may be able to get a portion of the paid leave back in a payroll tax credit through September 30, 2021.
The new law, titled New York State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave Bill, requires employers to provide employees with “a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours” per dose, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. With respect to the three approved vaccines currently on the market – namely, Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson – employees who receive the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (v. the one-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson) are eligible for up to eight hours of paid leave (i.e., four hours for each dose).
The leave under the new law, which expires on December 31, 2022, is in addition to other paid time off to which the employee is entitled, including paid leave under the New York State or New York City sick leave laws. The vaccination leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay for the entire leave period, and employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employees who request or take the leave. Employees may be entitled to more time off if authorized pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
Employers who continue to offer FFCRA leave, however, will be able to recoup some of this cost. The Biden Administration’s newly-enacted American Rescue Plan permits employers to voluntarily continue to offer leave under the FFCRA through September 30, 2021, and extends that leave to include, among other things, paid sick leave to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination and recovery from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to such vaccination. Employers who continue to offer this leave will be reimbursed, through a payroll tax credit, at the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a cap of $511 per day if the leave is needed for reasons related to immunization or testing or because of the employee’s own symptoms, quarantine or isolation.