New York City Imposes Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements on Private Employment

December 22, 2021 Advisory

Effective Dec. 27, 2021, private sector employees and independent contractors who work in New York City must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering the workplace. According to the Order issued on Dec. 13, 2021, by the NYC Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), private sector employers will be required to check proof of vaccination before allowing any worker or independent contractor to enter the workplace, and must maintain records containing proof of such vaccinations (or of reasonable accommodations granted for religious or disability reasons). The City also issued a helpful Frequently Asked Questions brochure on Dec. 15, 2021. 

Who is Covered by the Order?

The Order covers any private business that employs one or more workers (including full- or part-time workers, interns, volunteers or independent contractors) working in New York City or that maintains a workplace in New York City. “Workers” covered by the Order include individuals who work in person in New York City, including full- and part-time workers, interns, volunteers, independent contractors hired by the employer and self-employed individuals.

The Order does not apply to:

  • workers who work from home or whose employment does not involve interacting with others;
  • individuals who enter the workplace for a quick and limited purpose (such as using the restroom or making a quick delivery);
  • non-City residents who are performing artists or athletes who are not required to display proof of vaccination per the Key to NYC program or other orders;
  • individuals who qualify for exemptions from the Order based on sincerely held religious beliefs or disability; or
  • covered entities or individuals who are already subject to another Order of the Commissioner of the Department, Board of Health, the Mayor, or a state or federal entity that is in effect and requires them to maintain or provide proof of full vaccination, or to individuals who have been granted a reasonable accommodation pursuant to such requirement.

Record Keeping, Attestation and Notice Posting

Beginning Dec. 27, 2021, private sector employers are required:

  • to collect, verify and maintain a record of employees’ proof of vaccination against COVID-19;
  • to maintain records of reasonable accommodation(s) granted due to sincerely held religious beliefs or disability; and
  • to request and maintain vaccination records at their worksites for non-employee workers, such as independent contractors.

Attestation, Record-Keeping, Inspections and Penalties for Noncompliance

No later than Dec. 27, 2021, private sector employers are required to affirm compliance with the requirements of the Order on a form provided by the DOHMH. This affirmation must be posted in a conspicuous location in the workplace. The official DOHMH attestation is available in multiple languages at www.nyc.gov/vaxtowork.

All records created or maintained by the employer must be treated as confidential and stored in a secure location separate from the employee’s regular personnel file, and available to only those employees who have a legitimate need to access such information.

Upon request by a New York City agency, an employer must make available for inspection any records required by the Order. Noncompliance with the Order can result in fines up to $1,000 per violation with escalating penalties if violations persist. The City has also set up a telephone line for citizen reports of noncompliance with this Order.

If you have any questions specific to your business, please contact your regular Armstrong Teasdale attorney or one of the authors listed below.

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