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.

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Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.