NYS Designates COVID-19 a Highly Contagious Communicable Disease: Now What?

What to do ASAP

At the time of the HERO Act’s adoption, COVID-19 was not designated as a highly contagious communicable disease. But now, a number of key provisions are triggered. At this time employers are required to:

Employers are required to ensure that their exposure prevention plans are actually followed at the worksite and, as a result, must designate certain supervisory employees to implement and ensure compliance with the plans.

Anti-Retaliation Reminder

Of particular import now are the anti-retaliation provisions of the HERO Act. Employers must not retaliate against employees who:

  • in good faith report potential violations of the Act or the exposure prevention plans adopted in connection therewith to any state, local or federal authority,
  • report an airborne infectious disease concern or seek assistance or intervention with such exposure concerns from their employer or a governmental body, or
  • refuse to work where they believe in good faith that such work exposes them, other employees or the public to an unreasonable exposure to an airborne infectious disease, provided an employer is given notice or reasonably should have known of such unreasonable exposure.

An employer is required to maintain records of communications between them and employees regarding potential risk of exposure for two years after the conclusion of the designation from the Commissioner of Health.

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