New York City Mayor Eric Adams officially announced that New York City will rescind its private employer vaccine mandate, effective November 1, 2022.
On December 27, 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a first-of-its-kind requirement that all private sector employers mandate that all in-person private workers in New York City be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved accommodation.
However, Mayor Adams officially announced on September 20, 2022, that New York City will rescind this private employer vaccine mandate, effective November 1, 2022, thereby allowing companies to remove vaccination requirements for NYC workers. This is a significant development because New York City was the only jurisdiction left in the country that required that all private employers confirm the vaccination status of their workers.
Mayor Adams also announced that students in NYC public schools participating in after-school activities will no longer be required to be vaccinated. Notably, New York State will still require various healthcare industry employees to be vaccinated.
The removal of the private employer vaccine mandate in New York City means that, to the extent employers were requiring unvaccinated employees to work remotely based on this mandate, they can schedule those employees to return to work in person as usual on November 1—without having an approved accommodation or following stricter workplace precautions.
Companies that do choose to keep a vaccine mandate in place or require testing and masking for unvaccinated employees may continue to do so, but given the many recent changes to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance (which are detailed in a recent Morgan Lewis LawFlash), employers should also consider evaluating their screening testing and other COVID-19 protocols to ensure that they continue to meet business needs and are supported by the relevant CDC or local health department guidance.
As a reminder, even though the private employer vaccine mandate has officially ended, companies are still required to maintain a NY HERO Act airborne infectious disease safety plan, which must be (1) posted at all New York State locations, (2) attached to an employer’s handbook if the employer has one, and (3) distributed to new hires. It should be noted that the New York State Department of Labor proposed a few changes to the HERO Act Standard last month. The proposed changes will remove some of the specific requirements of the plan, which would instead need to say that companies will need to follow applicable guidance in the event of a future infectious disease declaration. If the proposed regulation is adopted, companies should revise their current HERO Act plans to ensure compliance.
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