Beginning November 1, 2022, New York City private sector employees will no longer be subject to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Mayor Eric Adams announced on September 20, 2022, that private employers in New York City will be able to make their own decisions on whether to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to report to work effective November 1. Until that date, the mandate remains in effect and, subject to accommodations (generally and practically medical and religious accommodations), a New York City private sector employer cannot permit an unvaccinated employee to work in a New York City facility. Although the City will eliminate the vaccine mandate for the private sector, Mayor Adams and the City Department of Health and Hygiene Commissioner encourage employers to maintain vaccine policies once the vaccine mandate is lifted.
Beginning December 27, 2021, the New York City Department of Health required all public and private sector employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination to their employers prior to entering the workplace or performing in-person work in New York City. To date, New York City is the only jurisdiction that continues to maintain an all-encompassing private sector vaccine mandate.
While vaccinations against COVID-19 for the private sector will no longer be required by New York City, until further notice, the public sector will continue to be subject to the vaccine mandate. Mayor Adams’s announcement was met with dissatisfaction from City employees as they risk discipline for noncompliance with the New York City vaccine mandate.
Although it is unclear, absent further mayoral action, it appears the New York City contractor and social services mandates will remain in place. Under these mandates, the most recent being September 13, 2021, all private sector employees working under a City contract that interacted with the public or City employees were required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to medical and religious accommodations. The mandate took effect even earlier (August 16, 2021) for those contract employees working in residential and congregate settings pursuant to a City contract.
In light of the latest announcement, private sector employers should consider both employee relations and legal implications should the business choose to eliminate a mandate. Employers, of course, should continue to be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) creates a continuing obligation for employers to maintain a healthy and safe workplace for their employees.
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