How to Comply With NYC’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers

Author: Ajoe P. Abraham|January 14, 2022

New York City released additional guidance regarding its new requirement that workers in the private sector provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering the workplace...
How to Comply With NYC’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers

How to Comply With NYC’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers

New York City released additional guidance regarding its new requirement that workers in the private sector provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering the workplace...

New York City released additional guidance regarding its new requirement that workers in the private sector provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering the workplace. The requirement, which applies to roughly 184,000 businesses, went into effect on December 27, 2021.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced that the city will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees in the city’s private sector on December 6, 2021. The Mayor also announced sweeping changes to the city’s “Key to NYC” program, including expansion of the program to children between the ages of five and 11. According to Mayor de Blasio, the measures are required to combat the growing threats posed by increasing Delta infections and the introduction of the new Omicron variant.

What Businesses Are Covered?

Per the December 13, 2021 Order of the Commissioner of Health (Order), the vaccine mandate applies to any non-governmental entity that employs more than one worker in New York City or maintains a workplace in New York City, as well as any self-employed individual or sole practitioner who works at a workplace or interacts with workers or the public in the course of their business.  The term “workplace” is defined as any location, including a vehicle, where work is performed in the presence of another worker or member of the public.

What Workers Are Covered?

Worker includes a full or part-time staff member, employer, employee, intern, volunteer or contractor of a covered entity, as well as a self-employed individual or a sole practitioner. It does not include:

  • An individual who works from their own home and whose employment does not involve interacting in-person with co-workers or members of the public;
  • An individual who enters the workplace for a quick and limited purpose; or
  • Non-City residents who are performing artists, college or professional athletes, or individuals accompanying such performing artists or college or professional athletes who do not have to display proof of vaccination pursuant to the Key to NYC program, Emergency Executive Order No. 316 and successor Orders.

What Counts as Proof of Vaccination?

As set forth in the Order, “proof of vaccination” means one of the following documents demonstrating that an individual has (1) been fully vaccinated against COVID-19; (2) received one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine; or (3) received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, provided that a worker providing proof of only such first dose provides proof of receiving the second dose of that vaccine within 45 days after receiving the first dose:

  • A CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or other official immunization record from the jurisdiction, city, state, or country where the vaccine was administered, or from a healthcare provider or other approved immunizer who administered the vaccine, that provides the person’s name, vaccine brand, and date of administration. A digital photo or photocopy of such record is also acceptable.
  • New York City COVID Safe App showing a vaccination record;
  • A valid New York State Excelsior Pass/Excelsior Pass Plus;
  • CLEAR Health Pass; or
  • Any other method specified by the Commissioner as sufficient to demonstrate proof of vaccination.

Are There Any Exceptions?

New York City’s private sector workplace vaccination requirement does not apply to the following:

  • People who work alone — at home or otherwise — and do not have in-person contact with co-workers or others in the course of their business.
  • People who enter a workplace briefly for a limited purpose, such as to use the bathroom.
  • Non-NYC resident performing artists, college or professional athletes, and anyone who accompanies them.
  • People who have requested reasonable accommodations for medical or religious reasons. If a worker is granted a reasonable accommodation, businesses must record the basis for the accommodation and keep supporting documentation.

The City has provided guidance on how to handle reasonable accommodation requests as well as a checklist that employers can use to process reasonable accommodation requests. According to the City, if an employer chooses to follow this checklist and keeps it on file, that will demonstrate that the employer handled the reasonable accommodation request appropriately.

What Records Do Employers Need to Keep?

Covered businesses are responsible for collecting proof of vaccination and securely maintaining records.  Businesses must also be prepared to make their records available for inspection upon request by a city agency.

There are three options for how businesses can meet this requirement: 

  1. A worker’s record can be a copy of their proof of vaccination or a record of a reasonable accommodation with supporting documentation.
  1. Businesses can create their own paper or electronic record that includes the following information for each worker:
    • Worker’s name
    • Whether the worker is fully vaccinated
    • For workers who submitted proof of the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, the date by which they can provide proof of a second dose (no later than 45 days after submitting proof of the first dose)
    • Record of reasonable accommodation with supporting documentation
  1. Businesses may check each worker’s proof of vaccination before they enter the workplace each day. They must keep a record of each verification.

Once in compliance, businesses must sign an affirmation and place it in a clearly visible area. Businesses were required to sign and post the affirmation no later than December 27, 2021. The affirmation form is available at nyc.gov/vaxtowork.

How Will the Vaccine Mandate Be Enforced?

According to the City, inspectors from various City agencies began enforcing the order on December 27, 2021. Businesses that fail to comply are subject to a fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties thereafter if violations persist.

It is also important to note that the private sector vaccine mandate took effect four days prior to Mayor de Blasio leaving office. At this point, it is still uncertain what changes his successor, Eric Adams, may make to the City’s COVID-19 requirements. Additionally, it likely that lawsuits will be filed challenging the mandate.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Ajoe Abraham, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.


  • Share:

AboutAjoe P. Abraham

Ajoe P. Abraham is a full-service commercial litigator with experience in representing both private and public companies in a broad range of disputes and transactions. He has extensive experience representing businesses in every phase of the litigation process and often acts as outside general counsel to corporate clients with regards to their formation and daily operations.Full Biography

Get In Touch

* The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

Share this article


Get the latest from our attorneys!

Please fill out our short form to get the latest articles from the Scarinci Hollenbeckattorneys weekly on the cutting-edge legal topics.

How to Comply With NYC’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers

How to Comply With NYC’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers
Author: Ajoe P. Abraham

New York City released additional guidance regarding its new requirement that workers in the private sector provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering the workplace. The requirement, which applies to roughly 184,000 businesses, went into effect on December 27, 2021.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced that the city will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees in the city’s private sector on December 6, 2021. The Mayor also announced sweeping changes to the city’s “Key to NYC” program, including expansion of the program to children between the ages of five and 11. According to Mayor de Blasio, the measures are required to combat the growing threats posed by increasing Delta infections and the introduction of the new Omicron variant.

What Businesses Are Covered?

Per the December 13, 2021 Order of the Commissioner of Health (Order), the vaccine mandate applies to any non-governmental entity that employs more than one worker in New York City or maintains a workplace in New York City, as well as any self-employed individual or sole practitioner who works at a workplace or interacts with workers or the public in the course of their business.  The term “workplace” is defined as any location, including a vehicle, where work is performed in the presence of another worker or member of the public.

What Workers Are Covered?

Worker includes a full or part-time staff member, employer, employee, intern, volunteer or contractor of a covered entity, as well as a self-employed individual or a sole practitioner. It does not include:

  • An individual who works from their own home and whose employment does not involve interacting in-person with co-workers or members of the public;
  • An individual who enters the workplace for a quick and limited purpose; or
  • Non-City residents who are performing artists, college or professional athletes, or individuals accompanying such performing artists or college or professional athletes who do not have to display proof of vaccination pursuant to the Key to NYC program, Emergency Executive Order No. 316 and successor Orders.

What Counts as Proof of Vaccination?

As set forth in the Order, “proof of vaccination” means one of the following documents demonstrating that an individual has (1) been fully vaccinated against COVID-19; (2) received one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine; or (3) received the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, provided that a worker providing proof of only such first dose provides proof of receiving the second dose of that vaccine within 45 days after receiving the first dose:

  • A CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card or other official immunization record from the jurisdiction, city, state, or country where the vaccine was administered, or from a healthcare provider or other approved immunizer who administered the vaccine, that provides the person’s name, vaccine brand, and date of administration. A digital photo or photocopy of such record is also acceptable.
  • New York City COVID Safe App showing a vaccination record;
  • A valid New York State Excelsior Pass/Excelsior Pass Plus;
  • CLEAR Health Pass; or
  • Any other method specified by the Commissioner as sufficient to demonstrate proof of vaccination.

Are There Any Exceptions?

New York City’s private sector workplace vaccination requirement does not apply to the following:

  • People who work alone — at home or otherwise — and do not have in-person contact with co-workers or others in the course of their business.
  • People who enter a workplace briefly for a limited purpose, such as to use the bathroom.
  • Non-NYC resident performing artists, college or professional athletes, and anyone who accompanies them.
  • People who have requested reasonable accommodations for medical or religious reasons. If a worker is granted a reasonable accommodation, businesses must record the basis for the accommodation and keep supporting documentation.

The City has provided guidance on how to handle reasonable accommodation requests as well as a checklist that employers can use to process reasonable accommodation requests. According to the City, if an employer chooses to follow this checklist and keeps it on file, that will demonstrate that the employer handled the reasonable accommodation request appropriately.

What Records Do Employers Need to Keep?

Covered businesses are responsible for collecting proof of vaccination and securely maintaining records.  Businesses must also be prepared to make their records available for inspection upon request by a city agency.

There are three options for how businesses can meet this requirement: 

  1. A worker’s record can be a copy of their proof of vaccination or a record of a reasonable accommodation with supporting documentation.
  1. Businesses can create their own paper or electronic record that includes the following information for each worker:
    • Worker’s name
    • Whether the worker is fully vaccinated
    • For workers who submitted proof of the first dose of a two-dose vaccine, the date by which they can provide proof of a second dose (no later than 45 days after submitting proof of the first dose)
    • Record of reasonable accommodation with supporting documentation
  1. Businesses may check each worker’s proof of vaccination before they enter the workplace each day. They must keep a record of each verification.

Once in compliance, businesses must sign an affirmation and place it in a clearly visible area. Businesses were required to sign and post the affirmation no later than December 27, 2021. The affirmation form is available at nyc.gov/vaxtowork.

How Will the Vaccine Mandate Be Enforced?

According to the City, inspectors from various City agencies began enforcing the order on December 27, 2021. Businesses that fail to comply are subject to a fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties thereafter if violations persist.

It is also important to note that the private sector vaccine mandate took effect four days prior to Mayor de Blasio leaving office. At this point, it is still uncertain what changes his successor, Eric Adams, may make to the City’s COVID-19 requirements. Additionally, it likely that lawsuits will be filed challenging the mandate.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Ajoe Abraham, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.