Effective March 17, 2022, the New York State Commissioner of Health has ended the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the New York HERO Act. As a result, employers are no longer required to enforce their workforce safety plans related to COVID-19.
With the expiration of the designation of COVID-19 under the HERO Act, most private employers in New York (excepting some employers in healthcare and congregate care settings or other high-risk sectors) are now no longer mandated to implement COVID-related safety protocols, such as daily health screenings. However, New York City private employers are still required to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements for their employees.
Even when a designation of an airborne infectious disease is not in effect, the HERO Act requires New York employers to:
- create an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan (if they have not already);
- provide a copy of the plan to employees within 30 days after creating one;
- provide a copy to any new employees upon hire;
- post the plan in each work site so employees can view it; and
- update the plan as needed.
Further, as we have previously reported, the HERO Act also requires employers with 10 or more employees to allow employees to “establish and administer a join labor-management workplace safety committee.” While there is no affirmative obligation for employers to create a workplace safety committee under the Act, covered employers must allow employees to create a committee upon request. The New York Department of Labor is currently in the process of reviewing public comments to a proposed rule it issued in December 2021 regarding the workplace safety committee requirement, and a final rule is expected sometime in the future.