In late May, the New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its Guidance on Use of Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 Vaccine Recovery Time (ny.gov). The Guidance states that employees may use their accrued sick leave under the New York State (“NYS”) sick leave law to take time off to recover from any side effects caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the NYS sick leave law, which went into effect last fall, all employers in NYS must provide their employees with sick leave. The employer’s size and net income determines whether the sick leave is paid or unpaid, and determines the number of hours that employees may accrue. NYS employees started accruing sick leave on September 30, 2020, and could start using their sick leave as of January 1, 2021.
Employees in New York may use their sick leave for, among other reasons, “mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, regardless of whether it has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time of the request for leave.” NYS Labor Law §196-b. The DOL Guidance explains that this permissible use of accrued sick leave would include recovery from any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As we described in newsletters earlier this year, employers in New York State must provide employees with paid time off for up to four (4) hours per dose to get vaccinated for COVID-19, and must also provide employees with emergency sick leave time for quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. Employers must provide these leaves in addition to providing sick leave under NYS law.