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Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations? Two New Laws on Who's Paying If an Employee Needs to Miss Work for Their Shot

Vaccine Reminder

Effective immediately, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that requires all employers in New York to provide up to four hours of paid time off at their regular rate of pay per injection to employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This means employees may be entitled to up to eight hours of paid time off if receiving a two-injection COVID-19 vaccine.

Simultaneously, the federal American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden expands employee eligibility for COVID-19 related paid time off to include vaccinations. These two new laws will impact almost all employers in the coming weeks, especially as vaccines become more widely available.

While the paid time off under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is voluntary, the paid time off from New York is not. The good news is that the federal law expanded the eligibility criteria for employers to receive tax credits for paid time off, effective April 1, 2021. That means paid time off for getting the vaccine will be eligible tax credits, provided the employer voluntarily continues to offer FFCRA.

Employers should communicate the following to employees;

  • Employees must notify their employer as soon as possible when scheduling appointments for the vaccine in the event the employer needs to provide coverage for that shift;
  • Employees should try and schedule vaccine appointments to minimize workplace absences and disruptions.

What if an employee has a vaccine appointment during their normally scheduled hours between now and April 1?

Employees in New York are eligible for up to four hours of pay at their regular rate for each injection. This pay will not qualify for a tax credit.

What if an employee’s vaccine appointment is after April 1?

For employers who voluntarily choose to provide FFCRA leave, paid time off to receive the vaccine would qualify for tax credits.

Can I count this toward an employee's NYS Paid Sick Leave balance?

No, this is time off specific for the COVID-19 vaccine, and cannot be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued, including an employee's NYS Paid Sick Leave.

Editor's Note: This is an evolving situation, and HR One will provide additional details and clarification as it becomes available.