NY Says Vaccinated Workers Can Use Sick Leave If Needed

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ALBANY (AP) — Employers aren’t allowed to refuse paid sick days if people feel ill after getting a dose of the vaccine, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Cuomo said the state’s labor department will issue guidance that makes it clear that employees can take a paid sick day to recover from rare but potential side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Federal health officials say the vaccine is safe and that side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine aren’t unusual: some people have reported fever, chills, nausea, a sore arm, fatigue or headache after receiving a dose.

Nearly half of people who responded to an April survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they are concerned they “might need to miss work if the side effects of the vaccine make them feel sick for a day or more.”

“I want to be crystal clear — no New Yorker will miss a day’s pay because of getting the vaccine,” Cuomo said. “The Department of Labor will be issuing guidance to all employers reminding them that in the unlikely event someone needs time off after experiencing side effects, by law, that is considered a paid sick leave day.”

New York already has a paid sick leave law on the books.

And another state law allows employees to use up to four hours of excused leave per COVID-19 vaccine dose. That time can’t be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued.

About 46% of New York’s 20 million residents are fully vaccinated, according to federal data. That’s above the national average of 40%.

Rates are as high as two-thirds of residents in Hamilton County in central New York, to 33.8% in the Bronx in New York City and 28.3% in Allegany County in western New York.


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