On September 20, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers is ending. The City’s mandate for municipal employees, however, will remain in effect.
The private employer mandate, which will be lifted as of November 1, 2022, was the first of its kind for any municipality in the nation when it went into effect on December 27, 2021. With its broad definitions of “covered entity” and “covered worker,” the mandate has required private employers in New York City to ensure that, subject to reasonable accommodations, all covered workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 before they enter the workplace. The mandate also imposed recordkeeping and posting requirements on private employers.
While the mandate will soon end, New York City private employers are still permitted to voluntarily adopt COVID-19 vaccine mandates that are compliant with federal, New York State, and New York City laws, something the City “continues to strongly urge” private employers to do, according to the Mayor’s Office.
We are continuing to monitor this development, as little written guidance has yet been issued. In the meantime, given these announced changes, New York City employers should:
Assess their current policies and practices with respect to vaccination requirements for employees. Provided they are not subject to another vaccine mandate, employers should consider if and how they want to modify or remove vaccine requirements for in-person work as of November 1st.
Develop a process for evaluating whether, and if so, how to return employees who have been out of the workplace, because of the private employer mandate.
Be prepared to assess potential accommodation requests from employees, who have a high risk of contracting or having a severe reaction to COVID-19 and are concerned about interacting with unvaccinated workers after November 1st.
Consider whether this change, as well as similar pronouncements from Governor Hochul, suggest other workplace changes, including loosening of health and safety protocols in the workplace.
Continue to maintain relevant records demonstrating past compliance with the private employer mandate.
©2022 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 265