The City of New York Will Be the First in the Nation to Place a COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate on Private Employers | Arent Fox

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On December 6, 2021, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a new COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all commercial employers who have one or more employees in New York City.

The mandate provides that all insured employees receive at least the first dose of a two-dose vaccine series by December 27, 2021.

During his press conference on December 6, 2021, the Mayor announced that the mandate would be granted on December 15, 2021 by the New York Commissioner’s Commissioner for Health and Hygiene. The Mayor also stated that his office is working with relevant stakeholders across the business community to develop guidelines for the implementation of the mandate, which will also be made available on December 15, 2021.

Although the mayor stated that the regulation and accompanying guidelines will not be published before December 15, 2021, he provided the following information:

  1. Unlike some other vaccination regulations, there is no provision that provides testing as an alternative to vaccine.
  2. The mandate will allow employers to consider exemption requests from workers seeking medical and religious accommodation.
  3. Employees who work remotely are not subject to the mandate.

Next steps and takeaways

  • The regulation and additional guidelines for implementation are to be published on December 15, 2021 and the mandate is to come into force on December 27, 2021. There are currently no known sanctions for employers who do not comply with the mandate.
  • All insured employers should consider the following steps before December 27, 2021:
    • Develop a mandatory vaccine policy. Employers who already have a mandatory vaccination policy in place should be ready to review and revise them if necessary to meet the city’s mandate.
    • Develop a process for soliciting and obtaining proof of vaccination from employees.
    • Develop procedures for handling medical and religious exemption requests.
  • National employers, who may also be subject to the Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) of OSHA, the vaccine mandate of CMS or the vaccine mandate of federal contractors, should note that, although pending legal challenges have prevented the implementation of these vaccine mandates, they should be prepared to comply with the New York City mandate when employing people in New York City.
  • Ultimately, we assume that this upcoming mandate will be legally challenged. We will be closely monitoring this situation and will provide updates as they become available. We note that legal challenges against similar COVID-19 mandates issued by the City of New York have survived initial challenges in state and federal courts attempting to prevent enforcement.

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