Most New York healthcare workers fired over mandate won't get unemployment insurance

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Healthcare workers who are fired for refusal to comply with the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate likely won't be eligible for unemployment insurance, according to state officials.  

In a statement released Sept. 25, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's office said the New York Department of Labor has issued guidance to clarify that terminated workers won't be eligible for the benefits unless they have a valid physician-approved request for medical accommodation.

The governor's office made the announcement at the same time it unveiled a plan to address staffing shortages  should a large number of healthcare workers leave hospitals and other facilities because of the state mandate.

New York's mandate requires healthcare workers at hospitals and nursing homes to receive their first vaccine dose by Sept. 27. Workers at additional entities covered by the mandate, including diagnostic and treatment centers, home health agencies, long-term home healthcare programs, school-based clinics and hospice care programs, must have at least one dose by Oct. 7.

"Workers in a healthcare facility, nursing home, or school who voluntarily quit or are terminated for refusing an employer-mandated vaccination will be ineligible … absent a valid request for accommodation because these are workplaces where an employer has a compelling interest in such a mandate, especially if they already require other immunizations," according to the New York Department of Labor website.

Ms. Hochul's office has said the state will consider deploying National Guard members, as well as partnering with the federal government to deploy disaster medical assistance teams to help local healthcare systems. The office said the governor's plan also includes the preparation of a state of emergency declaration to boost workforce supply and allow qualified healthcare professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates, retired and formerly practicing healthcare professionals to practice at New York facilities.  

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