Advice to Employers

COVID-19: What Worksites Need to Know

New York State has enacted various laws and regulations to protect workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

  • The NYS Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO ACT), which protects private sector employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.
    • The New York Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) was signed into law on May 5, 2021. The law mandates extensive new workplace health and safety protections in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the NY HERO Act is to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak.

      On September 6, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the designation of COVID-19 as an airborne infectious disease under the HERO Act. This designation requires all employers to implement workplace safety plans. 

      Under this law, the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL), in consultation with the NYS Department of Health, has developed an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans for the prevention of airborne infectious disease. Employers can choose to adopt the applicable policy template/plan provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the standard’s minimum requirements.

      The airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans must go into effect 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. As of February 15, 2022, the Commissioner of Health has continued to designate COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health in New York State.

      The standard and model plans are available in English and Spanish. Employers are required to provide a copy of the adopted airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan and post the same in a visible and prominent location within each worksite. Templates and resources are available below. 

      Inquiries about the HERO Act can be emailed to Airborne.Infectious.Diseases@labor.ny.gov.

  • The Emergency Preparedness Law, which requires public employers to adopt a plan for operations in the event of a declared public health emergency involving a communicable disease.
  • COVID-19 regulations, which require all employers to take various health and safety measures for the worksite. They include providing benefits – including sick leave, paid family leave, and disability benefits – to New York employees impacted by mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. 


(Updated 3/7/2022) 

To Mask or Not to Mask


Mask 3_1_22

Layered prevention strategies — like staying up to date on vaccines, screening testing, ventilation and wearing masks — can help limit severe disease and reduce the potential for strain on the healthcare system. CDC recommends using county COVID-19 Community Levels to help determine which COVID-19 prevention measures to use for individuals  and communities.

Some community settings such as schools and some high-risk congregate settings such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters might include additional layers of prevention (e.g., physical distancing, contact tracing)  High-risk congregate settings may implement added prevention as needed in the event of a facility outbreak even if COVID-19 Community Levels in the surrounding community are low. Daily we are monitoring health equity in vaccine distribution and assessing hospitalization data to ensure access to high quality healthcare. Please note that recommendations based on COVID-19 Community Levels may not apply to healthcare settings such as hospitals or long-term care facilities. 

Even if you are fully vaccinated, to maximize protection and prevent possibly spreading COVID-19 to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission

Guidance Document for Businesses from the CDC

NYSDOH Business Guidance Information


A Gentle Reminder for Businesses

If employees are ill (cough, fever and shortness of breath) they should stay home until they are fully recovered.

Healthcare providers make the decision to test for COVID-19. COVID-19 testing is available at local pharmacies and Urgent Care centers. 

YOU are the best defense against COVID-19!

Help to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, getting a your recommended COVID-19 vaccine, washing your hands and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. Best advice: Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19!

(Updated 1/13/2002)