Once a region reaches the reopening phase that includes certain businesses, those businesses are allowed to have employees report to work with restrictions.  Those restrictions are included in your business’ reopening plan, which your employer must make available to you upon request.  Employers are not under any obligation to allow employees of businesses that were deemed essential to stay home if they cannot work remotely.  However, employers do have an obligation to take whatever steps necessary to protect essential employees, including allowing remote working wherever possible and enforcing social distancing to the extent possible.

Although most businesses have been allowed to reopen since the entire state is now in Phase 4, there are still strict rules regarding social distancing and employee safety.  Individuals can contact the NYS Attorney General to file complaints against businesses that do not follow these rules.  The AG’s office has established a telephone line and an email address to take these complaints.  Anyone wishing to report a business that is continuing to operate despite not being “essential,” or that is not following social distancing rules for essential employees, can file a complaint online (including anonymously) at https://mylicense.custhelp.com/app/ask.  Individuals can also call (833) 789-0470 or email labor.bureau@ag.ny.gov to file these complaints.  Employees can also file complaints against their employers for violating these provisions by contacting the Department of Labor at https://labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/coronavirus-complaints.shtm.  Your employer is legally prohibited from retaliating against you or punishing you in any way for making a complaint.