NY HERO Act Proposed Amendments Released
The NY HERO Act is a bill intended to increase safety standards in workplaces throughout New York state. Triggered by the COVID-19 workplace guidelines, this Act goes further in its safety-focus and creates ongoing bodies of safety management, with an emphasis on employee participation in rulemaking. To learn more about the basics of the NY HERO Act, please see our previous article on the topic.
The NY HERO Act was signed by the governor on May 5, but it was made clear that this would not be the final version of the bill. Consequently, the NY State Legislature are currently attempting to pass several amendments that would make the bill significantly more employer friendly.
The important proposals are outlined below:
Clear Deadlines for Implementation of Safety Protocols: The HERO Act mandates that employers adopt a set of safety protocols but does not provide a concrete timeframe for such implementation. The proposed new rules create a more solid timeline for compliance. Employers would have 30 days after the DOL creates its model protocols (as outlined in the original HERO Act) to create its own safety protocols and 60 days after the DOL release to distribute the protocols to employees.
Extended Deadline for DOL to Create Safety Protocols: The DOL model safety protocols mentioned above were set to be created and shared publicly by June 4, 2021. The proposed amendments would delay the deadline to July 5, 2021.
Narrowing Scope of Employee Review of Employment Regulations: The act language currently allows the workplace committee established in the act (which contains employees) to review any and all regulations adopted by the employer regarding a large swathe of New York labor laws. The proposed amendments greatly narrow the focus of these workplace committees to only have the authority to review workplace safety and health issues.
Limitations on Committees: The proposed amendments do not apply to employers who already have a committee materially similar to the one required by this act.
Extended Relief to Offending Employers: The proposed amendments provide a 30 day window to rectify any violations of the HERO Act before an employee may bring suit, unless the employer is acting in bad faith when the violation occurred. The proposed amendments also provide a 6 month statute of limitations on any claims from an employee (the 6 month begins from the date of knowledge of a violation, not from the violation itself).
There is no concrete timeframe for the passage of these amendments but, given the governor’s professed desire to see the act altered, these changes will likely be expedited and signed quickly.