Fast Food Workers

Key to NYC Vaccination Requirement:
What Fast Food Employers/Workers Need to Know

Vaccination Requirement in the Key to NYC Program
On August 16, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued Emergency Executive Order 225, which established the Key to NYC Program, to combat the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 in New York City and to protect the health and safety of individuals in certain indoor settings. Among other things, Key to NYC requires covered food service establishments—including fast food restaurants—to not allow employees indoors without proof of vaccination against COVID-19. The Executive Order has been extended by subsequent Emergency Executive Orders, with some revisions, and will likely be extended every five days until COVID-19 infection rates improve.

How the Fair Workweek Law Relates to Compliance with the Key to NYC Program
Under NYC’s Fair Workweek Law, fast food employers must give workers advance notice of work schedules, including schedule changes, and must pay a premium for certain schedule changes. Also, fast food employers cannot discharge (e.g., fire or lay off workers or reduce their hours by more than 15%) without just cause or a bona fide economic reason.

On August 25, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued Emergency Executive Order 228, which states that a fast food employer has just cause to discharge an employee who fails to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as required by Key to NYC. To have just cause, a fast food employer must notify an employee of the vaccination requirement and then give the employee at least 30 days of unpaid leave to submit proof of vaccination.

  • If an employee submits proof within this timeframe, the employer must allow the employee to return to work.
  • If an employee does not submit proof within this timeframe, the employer can discharge the employee with just cause and does not have to follow progressive discipline procedures.


  • The employer must give the discharged employee a written explanation of the reason for termination.
  • Schedule change premiums for cancelled shifts still apply. If an employer cancels a worker’s scheduled shift with less than 14 days’ notice, including to meet the requirements of Key to NYC, the employer must pay the worker the applicable schedule change premium.
  • Some employees may request or be subject to a reasonable accommodation. For more information, visit

For more information about Key to NYC, including FAQs, visit

NYC's Fair Workweek Law

DCWP enforces NYC’s Fair Workweek Law, which protects fast food workers. Under the law, fast food employers in NYC:

  • Must give workers regular schedules that stay the same week-to-week
  • Must give workers work schedules 14 days in advance of the start of the schedule
  • Must pay premiums for schedule changes or clopenings
  • Must give workers a chance to say no to extra work or to clopenings
  • Must give current workers the opportunity to work more regular hours before hiring new employees
  • Cannot fire or reduce the hours of a worker by more than 15% without just cause or a legitimate business reason
  • Must reinstate laid off employees by seniority when hours become available

Notice of Rights

Fast food employers must post the notice, NYC FAST FOOD WORKERS’ RIGHTS, where employees can easily see it at each NYC workplace. Note: Employers must also post the notice in any language that is the primary language of at least 5 percent of the workers at the workplace if available below. Download a copy (updated June 2021) in:

Workplace Complaints

DCWP accepts complaints about employers for violations of fast food workers’ rights. File a workplace complaint.

Note: The just cause protections went into effect on July 4, 2021 and workers can immediately enforce their rights in court through a private right of action. DCWP will begin enforcing the just cause law on September 2, 2021. Beginning in January 2022, workers also can request to resolve their complaints through binding arbitration by a DCWP administered panel of arbitrators. To resolve through binding arbitration a worker must submit an Arbitration Demand on the fast food employer. Download Arbitration Demand Form.

Fair Workweek Law in Fast Food: Frequently Asked Questions

Download FAQs (updated March 2022)

Law and Rules

Download Fair Workweek Law/Rules packet (updated June 2021)

Fast Food Employer Tools

Download Progressive Discipline Policies: What Fast Food Employers Need to Know.

Download Template Termination and Hours Reduction Notices in Word format:

For more information, visit the Fast Food Employer Tools page.