On March 12, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (NY State Senate Bill S2588A) that provides up to four hours of paid leave for New York employees in connection with the receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Significantly, for private employers, the legislation amends the New York Labor Law (to add Section 196-C) to require paid leave "for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection."1 Because the leave is available per vaccine injection, those employees who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine are presumably eligible on at least two occasions (or more, if booster vaccines become available).

This new leave "shall be provided at the employee's regular rate of pay and shall not be charged against any other leave" to which the employee is entitled.2 The law also forbids discrimination and retaliation relating to an employee exercising their rights under the law.

Notably, the legislation is silent as to whether the employer is permitted to require the employee to:

  • (i) Provide notice of the absence;
  • (ii) Provide proof of vaccination; and
  • (iii) Schedule the vaccination outside of normal work hours or at a time when the absence presents the least disruption to work operations.

The legislation is also silent as to how this paid leave applies to exempt employees. We will continue to follow this legislation and any guidance issued by the New York Department of Labor.

The leave is available immediately and will expire on December 31, 2022. Employers should update their policies accordingly.


1  The four-hour cap may be expanded pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or employer policy.
2  This entitlement may be waived only in a collective bargaining agreement where this section of the law is explicitly referenced.

The facts, laws, and regulations regarding COVID-19 are developing rapidly. Since the date of publication, there may be new or additional information not referenced in this advisory. Please consult with your legal counsel for guidance.

DWT will continue to provide up-to-date insights and virtual events regarding COVID-19 concerns. Our most recent insights, as well as information about recorded and upcoming virtual events, are available at www.dwt.com/COVID-19.