By Michael L. Dodd, Partner and PIA Association Counsel, Ferrara Fiorenza PC
This post has been revised. Please see this blog post for updated information circa 6-16-21.
Given that nearly 60% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated at this time, there are many workplaces in this State in which all employees are vaccinated. This has led some employers to conclude that they are no longer responsible for having employees and visitors fill out a daily COVID-19 health screening questionnaire. A recent guidance update from the State serves as a reminder that this often-cumbersome process is still required. Moreover, the guidance for manufacturing employers, including printing companies, has not been modified. In other words, manufacturers are still required to have employees and visitors answer the same questions that have been mandated since June 2020.
On June 8, 2021, the New York Forward Guidance regarding these questionnaires was updated for office-based employers and a few other miscellaneous industries, like food service. Specifically, the updated guidance instructs office-based employers to modify their screening questions as follows:
“Health screenings should include questions on:
- COVID-19 Symptoms: Is currently experiencing, or has recently (within the past 48 hours) experienced, any symptoms of COVID-19;
- COVID-19 Contacts: Has had close contact …[ie., been within six feet of an individual for 10 minutes or more within a 24-hour period] in the past 10 days with any person confirmed by diagnostic test, or suspected based on symptoms, to have COVID-19; and/or
- COVID-19 Positive Test: Has tested positive for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test in the past 10 days.” Interim Guidance for Manufacturing Activities During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, June 26, 2020, page 7.
The guidance also provides an exemption from answering the second question above for employees who are either fully vaccinated or who have fully recovered from COVID-19 within three months prior to the screening.
While this is a somewhat welcome (and some would say overdue) revision to the guidance applicable to office-based employers, manufacturing companies must still ask screening questions based on outdated CDC guidance. Specifically for these employers, the questionnaire must inquire as to whether the workers and visitors have:
“(a) knowingly been in close or proximate contact in the past 14 days with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19;
(b) tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days; and/or
(c) has experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.” Interim Guidance for Office-Based Work During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, June 8, 2021, page 10.
Based on this recent update, it is clear that employers in New York are still obligated to perform this screening process and will need to continue to do so until further guidance from the State says otherwise.
If you have any questions about promoting vaccination among your employees or the legal ramifications related to the ADA and Title VII, or for assistance with any employment-related matter, contact Michael L. Dodd, Association Counsel, Ferrara Fiorenza PC, (315) 437-7600, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Freeman, President
Printing Industries Alliance
Office: (716) 691-3211
Cell: (716) 983-3826