As we approach the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s upheaval of “business as usual,” we continue to field inquiries from Empire State employers regarding their pandemic-related workplace obligations.  Given that many of the pandemic-related regulations remain fully in effect, we have summarized in this blog post the primary employer obligations that remain in-effect in New York:

  • Employers remain required to screen employees prior to, or upon entry, to the physical workplace for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Employees must continue to wear face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible. As supplemental guidance on the face covering mandate details, employers are required to provide employees with sufficient face coverings, though employees may use their own face coverings and may be eligible for accommodations where they are not otherwise able to don face coverings due to medical reasons.
  • All employers, whether considered “essential” or not, are still required to comply with guidelines for their industry (e.g., office, construction), as set forth in New York Forward’s phased reopening guidance, and affirm such compliance on the New York Forward website.
  • Relatedly, all employers with in-person operations must develop a written business safety plan covering certain protocols to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
  • New York’s travel advisory, last updated in November 2020, remains in-effect. Employers should ensure that employees traveling for both work or non-work purposes comply with the advisory – and, specifically, its testing and quarantine/isolation requirements – before returning to the workplace from travel.
  • New York employers remain obligated to provide paid sick leave to employees who are quarantined or isolated due to the exposure to, and/or infection with, COVID-19. Since the leave was enacted in March 2020, supplemental guidance has been issued further clarifying how employers can comply.

We will continue to monitor employer obligations and vaccine updates related to COVID-19 in New York.  If you have any questions about how these measures impact your workforce, Reed Smith’s experienced Labor & Employment Group is ready to speak with you.