COVID vaccine mandate for private sector workers: Everything you need to know

New England

NEW YORK — Private sector workers in New York City have less than two weeks to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine under a mandate issued last week by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

On Wednesday, the mayor outlined new guidance for workers and employers ahead of the deadline and promised to provide clear, straightforward instructions online to help business owners navigate the new requirement.

Workers must provide their employer with proof of at least one dose of a COVID vaccine by Dec. 27. Employees with only one dose of Pfizer or Moderna will be required to provide proof of their second shot within 45 days.

Employers, meanwhile, must keep a record of each employees’ vaccination proof as well as documentation for any approved reasonable accommodations. 

Anyone seeking a reasonable accommodation to not comply with the mandate must apply via their employer by Dec. 27. Employees can continue to work while their accommodation application is processed.

Employers must not allow any unvaccinated workers to come to their workplace after the Dec. 27 deadline, unless they’ve applied for reasonable accommodation.

Employers will also need to fill out a certificate provided by the city affirming they are in compliance with the vaccine mandate and post it in a public place.

If an employer suspects an employee of providing fake or falsified proof of vaccination, they can call 311 or file a complaint online; call 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226); or email STOPVAXFRAUD@health.ny.gov.

As for enforcement, de Blasio said if the city finds a problem with a business’ compliance, they will ask the employer to fix or address the issue. Using the city’s Key to NYC vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues as a point of reference, the mayor said he’s seen very few cases in which penalties were needed for noncompliance.

The goal, de Blasio said, is not to penalize employers but to get people vaccinated and avoid hurtful mitigation efforts such as industry-wide shutdowns during spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

The city Health Department also outlined some exceptions to the private sector vaccine mandate, including:

  • People who work alone — at home or otherwise — and do not have in-person contact with co-workers, the public or others.
  • People who enter a workplace briefly for a limited purpose, such as to use the bathroom.
  • Performing artists, college or professional athletes — and anyone who accompanies them — who do not live in New York City.
  • People who have requested reasonable accommodations for medical or religious reasons.

For more information about the private sector vaccine mandate, including guidance for non-employee workers such as contractors, visit nyc.gov/vaxtowork.

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