15 Sep

September 2021 New York HR Legal Updates

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New York City COVID-19 Directive “Key to NYC” Enacted

Update Applicable to:

Employers in New York City (NYC) in the indoor food services, indoor gyms/fitness, and indoor entertainment businesses.

What happened?

On August 16, 2021, Mayor de Blasio published Executive Order 225 with guidance being released by New York City on August 18, 2021.

What are the details?

The Order, currently effective, is enforceable starting September 13, 2021 and requires the covered entities that operate in any of the covered premises must comply by verifying the vaccination status of specified covered individuals. The businesses listed as covered by the Order are:

  • Indoor food service: includes restaurants, catering halls, event spaces, hotel banquet rooms, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, grocery stores/food markets with indoor dining, coffee shops, and fast food or quick service with indoor dining. It also includes indoor dining establishments in hotels, colleges and universities, and malls (including food courts), as well as any on-premises catering services.
  • Indoor gyms and fitness: includes gyms, fitness centers, fitness classes, pools, indoor studios and dance studios, tennis facilities/bubbles, ice-skating rinks, and indoor fitness classes. This includes gyms and fitness centers in hotels and higher education institutions.
  • Indoor entertainment: includes movie theaters, music and concert venues, museums and galleries, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, indoor stadiums, convention centers, exhibition halls, performing arts theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, pool and billiard halls, recreational game centers, adult entertainment, and indoor play areas.

Proof of vaccination must be obtained from those aged 12 and over (including patrons), full and part-time employees, interns, volunteers, and certain contractors. To note, individuals who are partially vaccinated are also considered covered individuals.

Individuals excluded from being required to show proof of vaccination include:

  • Suppliers and vendors who are making deliveries and pickups, and those who enter a location for the sole purpose of making necessary repairs.
  • Those under the age of 12.
  • Performing artists who are not residents of NYC and are not regularly employed by the entity; professional athletes/members of professional sports teams who are not residents of NYC but enter a premises for the purpose of competing; and individuals accompanying performing artists or a sports team/professional athlete as part of their regular employment and who are not residents of NYC.
  • Customers who do not have sufficient proof of vaccination to enter the indoor portion of a business’s premises for quick and limited purposes.

To enter a covered establishment, individuals over the age of 12 must demonstrate that they have received at least one dose of a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

The City’s guidance provides the following acceptable forms of proof of vaccination:

  • NYC COVID Safe App
  • Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus
  • A hard copy or photo of a CDC Vaccination Card
  • NYC Vaccination Record
  • An official immunization record from outside NYC or the U.S.

It is mandated that identification be checked at the same time as proof of vaccination for anyone appearing to be 18 years of age or older (excluding employees or members if identity of the person is known). Examples of acceptable forms of identification (ID) include: driver’s license, government ID card, IDNYC card, passport, school or work ID card (or a photo of the same).

Covered businesses must have a written plan available for inspection that describes how the business will check the vaccination status of staff and customers. Businesses must also post a visible sign that notifies employees and patrons about the vaccination requirement. The NYC Health Department has a model sign or businesses can create their own.

The order can be read here.

The guidance and poster can be read here.

An article on the order can be read here.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should read the Order and guidance to make the appropriate updates to their policies on vaccination verifications and any other applicable policies as well as display the poster provided by NYC.

New York’s HERO Act Now Fully Triggered

Update Applicable to:

All employers in New York.

What happened?

On September 6, 2021, Governor Hochul announced that the New York’s health commissioner designated COVID-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health.

What are the details?

The announcement of this designation to COVID-19 triggers the HERO Act and now requires employers to activate their infectious disease exposure prevention plans (IDEPP) instead of only being adopting and distributing them.

The announcement can be read here.

Additional information and industry-specific templates for IDEPPs can be read here.

An article on the announcement is read here.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the announcement and the HERO Act information to implement their IDEPPs to stay in compliance with New York’s designation. The law firm, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, suggests that employers should nonetheless prepare to implement their safety plans, conduct employee training, and take other steps called for by the applicable protocols.

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