New York State has announced that it will be requiring all healthcare workers to receive a vaccination against COVID-19 infection. This requirement affects all healthcare workers at hospitals and long-term healthcare facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This requirement is intended to help protect both workers and patients who are at high risk of coronavirus infection.
What is This New Mandate?
The new rule, issued by the state government of New York, will require every healthcare worker working in a hospital, nursing home, or other long-term healthcare facility to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before September 27, 2021. This new mandate also requires affected healthcare providers to institute a policy mandating employee vaccinations. The only exceptions to this rule are people who have “religious or medical reasons” for not getting vaccinated.
Why Was This Mandate Put Into Place?
The foremost reason for this new vaccination mandate was to protect vulnerable patients and healthcare workers from COVID-19. However, part of the reason the mandate was deemed necessary was due to a surprising reticence among many healthcare workers to get vaccinated in the first place. According to an article by Northeastern University, about 27% of healthcare workers are still unvaccinated, and around 15 percent of unvaccinated healthcare workers are firmly opposed to getting vaccinated. The mandate circumvents this vaccine skepticism by simply requiring vaccination as part of their jobs.
Can Healthcare Workers Avoid Getting Vaccinated?
The only valid reasons for not getting vaccinated prior to the September 27 deadline are religious objections or medical issues that make vaccination potentially dangerous. Anyone else who is covered by the new mandate but does not fit into these exceptions may face legal penalties for failing to obtain a vaccination. The exact nature of these penalties has not yet been set, but may include fines or suspension of their license to practice medicine. In addition, employees who fail to comply with the mandate where a vaccination policy has been put into place may face professional repercussions, up to and including termination.
How Does This Mandate Affect Employees?
Employees who do not have a valid reason to avoid getting vaccinated will need to obtain at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Under state law, employees are legally permitted to take four hours of paid time off to receive the vaccine for each dose they receive. Employers are also required to make allowances for employees who experience negative side effects as a result of the vaccine, which includes giving paid time off. Employers who penalize employees for taking time off to get vaccinated may face legal repercussions due to interfering with their employees’ legal right to obtain a vaccination.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.