Today, Assemblyman Charles D. Fall (D-Richmond) debated and passed his legislation (A.3354-B) by a bipartisan majority vote of 136-13. The New York State Senate is also expected to take up the legislation (S.2588-A/Gournardes) soon.
The intent of the legislation is to give public and private employees up to four hours paid leave per-COVID-19 vaccine injection. The leave is available for when an employee has a vaccine appointment scheduled during their work hours and will need the necessary time off to attend their appointment. If an employee has a vaccine appointment scheduled during non-working hours then, they will not need to use the leave benefit.
For public employees, this bill follows the same framework as the cancer screening leave policy under current Civil Service Law, which provides up to 4 hours of pay to public employees to undergo cancer screening. In addition, there are multiple examples under the Labor Law where employees are provided a leave of absence for health-related reasons, such as, bone marrow, organ and blood donations.
This legislation does not prevent any employee from receiving a greater number of hours for this purpose pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement or as otherwise authorized by their employer. This would allow unions to negotiate a better leave option for their members. Moreover, for private sector employees, this benefit may be waived by a collective bargaining agreement.
The recently released Executive budget proposal would establish similar requirements, but they would be written into unconsolidated law. This bill provides more clarity because it would set forth the leave requirements applicable to public employees under the Civil Service Law and to private employees under the Labor Law.
Finally, there are no specific requirements set forth in the bill for employees to provide proof. However, there is nothing preventing an employer from requiring proof from an employee to demonstrate that such leave is needed for purposes of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We all realize that the vaccine roll-out has not been smooth, to date, but with a new federal administration bringing forth a clear plan to get vaccine in arms, this legislation ensures that hardworking New Yorkers are not forced to choose between their employment and receiving their vaccination.The quicker and more efficient we can get residents of New York vaccinated, the faster we can reopen businesses and extend business hours in a safe manner,” said Assemblyman Charles D. Fall.