Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio released comprehensive guidelines on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private sector employees and non-public school staff which are set to take effect on December 27, 2021.
Logistics of the Mandate
The mandate requires employees in the private sector (which includes not-for-profit employers) to provide proof of at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19 to their employers by December 27, 2021. Employees are required to receive their second dose within 45 days.
If an employee does not provide proof of a second dose within the above timeframe, employers must exclude them from the workplace until they can display proof of vaccination for their second dose, unless an exception due to a religious or medical accommodation applies, or a worker only ever enters the workplace for a quick and limited purpose. Workplaces may verify employees’ proof of vaccination by viewing a sufficient type of proof of vaccination and an acceptable form of identification.
Businesses Covered by the Mandate
The mandate covers any non-governmental entity that employs more than one employee in New York City and any non-governmental entity that maintains or operates a workplace in New York City. Individuals who are self-employed or sole proprietors are not covered by the order unless they work at a workplace, or interact with other employees in-person, or interact with the public in-person in the course of their work.
Religious and Medical Exemptions to the Mandate
Workers who have a sincerely held religious belief (not a social or political belief) or a medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated may apply for a reasonable accommodation. Employees seeking these accommodations must apply by December 27, 2021. Employees may be permitted to continue coming into the workplace while their reasonable accommodation request is pending.
Additional Requirements for Employers
To signal compliance with the mandate, organizations must fill out and post an affirmation created by the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The signed attestation must be posted in a conspicuous location within the business by December 27, 2021. Organizations must post this official attestation sign regardless of whether they had previously posted their own signage about employee vaccination status.
Vaccine Mandate for Nonpublic Schools
The Commissioner of the New York City Health Department has also required all nonpublic school staff to provide proof of at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19 by December 20, 2021. This mandate applies to all nonpublic schools that provide instruction and related services to students from preschool through grade 12 or provide instruction in a student’s residence for children who receive in-person instruction at home. Staff who have received only the first dose of a two-dose vaccine by that date must provide proof of a second dose within 45 days of their first dose. School staff may also apply for reasonable accommodations due to a sincerely held religious belief or medical condition.
Nonpublic schools must also submit specific affirmations to the City, signaling that they are in compliance with the vaccination mandate by December 28, 2021 and again by February 17, 2022.
Penalties for Noncompliance
If a business or nonpublic school refuses to comply, they will be subject to a fine of $1,000 per violation, and escalating penalties thereafter if violations persist.
Employers may adopt a workplace policy regarding vaccination that is stricter than what is required under the mandate as long as it is not discriminatory or otherwise unlawful. If you do not currently have a policy in place or you need assistance implementing this mandate, please reach out to us.