Employers Required to Adopt Model Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Plan by Aug. 5th
A new law, the HERO Act, passed by the New York State Legislature earlier this year requires ALL employers to adopt and maintain an airborne infectious disease prevention plan. The plan must be implemented when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a “highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.” The plans are only in place when the Commissioner of Health makes such a designation, and are not required to be implemented due to a seasonal or endemic infectious disease, such as cold or flu season.
The New York State Department of Labor has released the airborne infectious disease prevention standard, model airborne infectious disease prevention plan, and industry specific templates for employers to utilize to comply with the new law. Employers can choose to adopt these templates and plans provided by the Dept. of Labor, or can establish their own plans that meet or exceed the standard’s minimum requirements.
Currently, while employers must adopt plans as required by the law, as of the date of this writing no designation has been made and plans are not required to be in effect.
Additionally, employers (with 10 employees or more) are required to permit employees to establish joint labor-management workplace safety committees. This provision of the law does not go into effect until Nov. 1st. NFIB will share additional details once the Dept. of Labor releases the guidelines for these committees.
What does all of this mean for you as a small business owner?
First, you must adopt a written airborne infectious disease prevention plan by Aug. 5th. This can be the model plan provided by the NYS Dept. of Labor or you can draft your own plan, but it must meet the law’s requirements.
Second, after you adopt a written plan, it must be communicated to your employees within 30 days. Employers are required to provide a verbal review of the plan, post it in the workplace, and include it in their employee handbook. This must be completed by Sept. 4th to remain compliant with the law.
Lastly, beyond adopting the plan and communicating the plan to your employees, you DO NOT have to put the plan in place, meaning you do not need to require employees to social distance, use PPE, adjust capacity, etc. New York State only requires employers to adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.