Beginning December 27, 2021, private employers in New York City must require all workers who perform in-person work or who interact with the public to show proof that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers will then have 45 days to show proof of their second dose (for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines).
The only exemptions from this requirement will be for employees with approved accommodations because they can’t receive the vaccine for medical- or religious-based reasons, or if the employee only ever enters the workplace for a quick and limited purpose (for example, using the bathroom, making a delivery, or clocking in and receiving an assignment before leaving to begin a solitary assignment).
What does this mean for employers? Unless an employee meets one of the exemptions outlined above, private employers may not allow unvaccinated workers to come into the workplace from December 27, 2021 onward. In addition, workers receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines must provide proof of their second dose by February 10, 2022 in order to be allowed into the workplace from that date onward.
Employers should provide workers with paid time off (up to four hours per vaccine injection), as required by New York State law, in order to comply with this new requirement.
Employers must also verify and keep a record of each worker’s proof of vaccination by December 27. There are three different ways that an employer can meet this requirement:
- Employers can maintain a copy of each worker’s proof of vaccination or, if applicable, a record of a reasonable accommodation with supporting documentation;
- Employers can create their own paper or electronic record that includes the following information for each worker: worker’s name; whether the worker is fully vaccinated; for workers who submitted proof of the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, the date by which they can provide proof of a second dose (no later than 45 days after submitting proof of the first dose); and for workers who do not submit proof of vaccination because of a reasonable accommodation, the record must indicate that an accommodation was provided and must separately main records stating the basis for the accommodation and any supporting documentation provided by the worker; or
- Employers may check each worker’s proof of vaccination before they enter the workplace each day.
Employers selecting the third option must keep a record of each verification.
All records must be treated as confidential.
By December 27, employers must complete a certificate affirming they are in compliance with this requirement and post it in a public-facing location at the workplace. The certificate is available at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/covid/covid-19-vaccination-workplace-requirement-affirmation.pdf.
Employers should also be prepared to make their records available for inspection for audit by a NYC agency.
Below are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
- Does the vaccine mandate apply to remote workers? An individual who works from their own home and whose employment does not involve interacting in-person with co-workers or members of the public is not covered by this vaccine mandate.
- What is considered a “workplace”? A “workplace” is any location — including a vehicle — where an individual works in the presence of at least one other person.
- Does the vaccination requirement apply to non-employees? Non-employee workers, such as contractors, must also provide vaccination proof. Businesses may request that a contractor’s employer confirm proof of vaccination. Businesses must then keep a log of these requests and the confirmations they receive.
- What are acceptable proofs of vaccination? The following are all acceptable proofs of vaccination:
- CDC Vaccination Card. A digital photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
- NYC Vaccination Record or other official immunization record, including from the worker’s health care provider. A digital photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable.
- NYC COVID Safe App (available for Android and iOS).
- CLEAR Health Pass (available for Android and iOS).
- Excelsior Pass (or Excelsior Pass Plus).
- Is there a deadline for employees to apply for a reasonable accommodation? They must apply for a reasonable accommodation by December 27, 2021. Employers may permit workers to continue coming into the workplace while their reasonable accommodation request is pending.
- May an employer terminate or discipline an employee who does not provide proof of vaccination or request a reasonable accommodation by December 27? It can. The new law simply prohibits an employer from allowing employees who do not provide proof of vaccination or who have not requested a reasonable accommodation into the workplace. If the employer wants to discipline or terminate an employee for failing to abide by the new law, it may do so, but it should do so on a consistent basis.