New York Employers Required to Adopt Infectious Disease Plans

August 2, 2021 Advisory

Under the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act), employers in New York must adopt plans to respond to future infectious disease outbreaks no later than Aug. 5, 2021. Employers must adopt a model plan, a form for which is published by the New York Department of Labor (NY DOL), or a more stringent plan, and must share the plan with employees within 30 days of adoption. 

The law applies to employers with employees in New York state, even if the main office is out of state. "Employees" includes those who work part time or who are independent contractors. Employers’ infectious disease plans must include steps for implementation and exposure controls, among other things, and no employer may retaliate against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the Act. Much of the exposure controls required are familiar from the COVID-19 pandemic protocols, including daily health screenings, face coverings, physical distancing and disinfection processes. The NY DOL has published a model plan that can be customized to fit a business’s needs. There are also industry-specific plans to accommodate employees in specialized sectors such as agriculture, retail and private education.

Although an infectious disease outbreak plan must be in place for New York employers no later than Aug. 5, 2021, such plans need not be activated until the State Commission of Health designates a disease as presenting a serious risk of harm to the public health. No such designation is currently in place.

Having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, employers know how difficult it can be to adjust operations on a whim to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and customers. The adoption of an infectious disease response plan will not only ensure compliance with New York law, but also help businesses be prepared to respond to an infectious disease outbreak in an efficient and effective manner with little disruption to normal operations.

Armstrong Teasdale is here to assist New York employers in preparing plans for a response to infectious disease outbreaks. Please contact the authors listed below or your regular AT attorney for assistance in complying with the HERO Act.

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