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New York State – Updates Vaccine Leave Guidance

December 2, 2021

On March 12, 2021, former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law granting employees paid leave time to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Last week, the New York State Department of Labor (“NYSDOL”) updated its Frequently Asked Questions (see Guidance) on New York’s COVID-19 Vaccine Leave Law to clarify that the law applies to any COVID-19 vaccination, including booster shots. 

Below is the full text of the new Labor Law provision (Chapter 77 of the Laws of 2021). LABOR LAW § 196-C.


  1. Every employee shall be provided a paid leave of absence from his or her employer for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection, unless such employee shall receive a greater number of hours pursuant to a collectively bargained agreement or as otherwise authorized by the employer, to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
  2. The entire period of the leave of absence granted pursuant to this section shall be provided at the employee’s regular rate of pay and shall not be charged against any other leave such employee is otherwise entitled to, including sick leave pursuant to section one hundred ninety-six-b of this article, or any leave provided pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.
  3. The provisions of this section may be waived by a collective bargaining agreement, provided that for such waiver to be valid, it shall explicitly reference this section of law. In addition, the law provides that no employer or his or her agent, or the officer or agent of any corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, or any other person, shall discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee because such employee has exercised his or her rights afforded under this act, including, but not limited to, requesting or obtaining a leave of absence to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The subject matter of COVID-19 posts is often very technical. It is also an evolving area of science and law and very fact specific. Our goal here is to simply alert you to some of the key issues involved. We urge you to seek competent legal counsel before applying these ideas to your specific situation. Since March 2020, we have had a team of attorneys focusing on COVID-19 related developments and they continue to stand ready to help you with any issues involving the pandemic.