Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
March 31, 2021
Is it true I have to pay employees to go be vaccinated? Can I demand they give me notice and a say when they go for the vaccine? Also, how much time? What if there are boosters needed, etc?
Yes. The law states "employees will be granted up to four hours of excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued". https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-legislation-granting-employees-time-receive-covid-19-vaccination. The new legislation is silent as to the types of advance notice, as well as documentation employers can request from employees seeking this leave, so, surmising, would requiring advance notice be acceptable? Seems so, if the advance notice requirement is promulgated and applied fairly to all staff. If you are concerned with opportunists, you can request proof from the employee they have received the vaccine. The employer can also request proof of receipt of the vaccine while being careful not to phrase the request so as to elicit information about a disability.
The legislation doesn’t require a policy be issued. However, announcing your notice and pay policy would likely be a further carrot to ensure employees get vaccinated. Also, managers must be made aware of the legislation, and the fact that it contains non-discrimination and retaliation provisions. Finally, it looks like employees would be entitled to up to eight hours off for two shots. Hopefully, as with much of the COVID-related legislation, further guidance will issue at some point hereafter. This Covid-Vaccination Pay is in effect (as of today's date) until December 31, 2022.