New York City private business vaccine mandate in effect, fines loom for employers with unvaccinated workers

New York City is the first place in the U.S. to mandate vaccines at all private workplaces

New York City's vaccine mandate for private employers went into effect Monday, as the largest city in the country looks to implement the strictest vaccine requirement on non-government employees yet. 

That means workers at every business in the city, no matter the size, must provide proof to their employer that they have received at least one vaccine dose, and proof of a second dose no later than 45 days after that. The requirement applies to contractors as well.

If they do not, the employer must ban then from the workplace or else the business could be subject to a "fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties thereafter if violations persist." 

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presents a proclamation at the 46th Precincts National Night Out on August 3, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. De Blasio required vaccines for all employees of private businesses in New York City. (Photo (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Employers will have to post a certificate in a public place of their business saying that they are only allowing vaccinated employees in their workplace. 


According to city guidance, businesses can choose one of three ways to comply with the city's order. They can either keep on file a copy of a worker's proof of vaccination, create their own proof of vaccination record including the worker's name and whether that worker is fully vaccinated, or they can check workers' vaccination status each day before work starts. 

"If we find a problem, we simply ask the business to address it, to fix it, and they do overwhelmingly," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this month of how enforcement will work. "In a very, very few cases we needed to apply penalties, but very rarely. The goal is not to penalize. The goal is to simply make this work."


De Blasio cited the city's experience mandating vaccines for its own workers and certain public establishments like bars to underscore how confident he is that the mandate for private business will work. If you give employees a choice between losing their jobs and getting vaccinated, he said, people will get vaccinated. 

In this image taken from video, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a virtual press conference, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in New York. The mayor is leaving office at the end of the month, but is implementing a far-reaching vaccine mandate on hi (AP / AP Newsroom)

"Let's say the employee is hesitant, as we saw with many of our own employees. An employer clearly has an opportunity to say, I'm going to put you on leave without pay for a period of time and let you think about it," de Blasio said. "You saw what happened to a lot of people on leave without pay. And I don't say this with any disrespect to them. I think a lot of people when they really came down to the choice of losing a paycheck and where they were in their career versus the simple act to getting vaccinated, the vast majority got vaccinated."


"Employers have many options," the mayor added. 

Employees have fewer. If they're not fully vaccinated, the only reason they can come into a place of work is for "a quick and limited purpose" like "using the bathroom, making a delivery, or clocking in and receiving an assignment before leaving to begin a solitary assignment."