COVID-19 Designated Highly Contagious and Communicable Disease under the NY HERO Act

Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan

The Commissioner of Health designated COVID-19 a “highly contagious and communicable disease” on Monday, mandating extensive new health and safety requirements for all employers. The NY HERO Act increases worker safety against airborne communicable diseases and strengthens prevention against workplace infections. Under the law, all employers are required to adopt a workplace safety plan and implement it for all airborne infectious diseases designated by the New York State Department of Health. Employers can adopt a model safety plan as crafted by the New York State Department of Labor or develop their own safety plan in compliance with HERO Act standards.

The plans adopted by employers must address a number of safety measures, including but not limited to: employee health screenings, masking, and social distancing requirements, workplace hygiene stations, workplace cleaning protocol, quarantine protocol, and building airflow technology.

The HERO Act also protects employees from retaliation for making a complaint about an employer’s failure to comply with the law or the adopted plan. The anti-retaliation provisions prohibit discrimination or adverse actions taken against an employee for following the requirements of these plans, reporting concerns on the implementation of a plan, or refusing to work.