BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: What do New York employers need to know about the HERO Act?
Answer: On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) into law. The law mandates extensive workplace health and safety requirements to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak. The law also prohibits retaliation against employees who raise concerns about employers’ workplace health measures.
Establish a Prevention Plan
The HERO Act requires all private employers with worksites in New York to establish a written airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan. The plan must include exposure controls such as health screenings, face coverings, hand hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection, and personal protective equipment.
The New York State Department of Labor published an Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard, a Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan, and various industry-specific model plans. Employers can choose to adopt a model provided by NYS DOL or establish an alternative plan that meets or exceeds the Standard’s minimum requirements.
New York employers have until August 5, 2021 to adopt a prevention plan and
- distribute the plan to employees by September 4, 2021;
- post the plan in a prominent location at each New York worksite;
- provide the plan to all newly hired employees; and
- a copy of the plan must be added to employee handbooks.
The prevention plan must go into effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health. Currently, no designation has been made. While employers must adopt and disseminate a plan now, there is no current requirement to implement the plan.
Allow for Safety Committees
Effective November 1, 2021, the HERO Act also requires employers with at least 10 employees to allow employees to form safety committees. Employee safety committees would be permitted to meet regularly during work hours to review policies, participate in site visits, and raise workplace health and safety concerns. NYS DOL is expected to publish additional guidance for employee safety committees.
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DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.