New York State Passes HERO Act, but Amendments on the Horizon
On May 5, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (or HERO Act) into law. The law provides numerous safety protections for employees working in the COVID-19 workplace. The general idea of the law is to create a set of COVID-19 safety standards that employers must follow when running a workplace for the foreseeable future. The Department of Labor will follow (by June 4) with a model set of standards for airborne infectious diseases that an employer may adopt as their own.
The following regulations will take effect on June 4, 2021:
Employers must implement safety standards approved by the New York State DOL (as long as the Airborne Infectious Disease Model Guidance is released by this time). This will include standards on the following issues:
- Face Coverings
- Employee Health Screenings
Employers must distribute these standards in a notice to all employees;
A prohibition on retaliation for an employee for that employee’s exercise of their rights under the HERO Act;
A private right of action for any employee for any employee who wishes to seek injunctive relief against an employer for violations of the HERO Act
The following regulations will take effect on November 1, 2021:
Employers must allow employees to create joint labor-management workplace safety committees (Committees);
The Committees must be allowed to bring health and safety concerns to appropriate management. The employer must have a process in place for this;
The Committees must be allowed to review workplace safety policies and the employer must engage in cooperative dialogue over any disagreements;
The Committees must be allowed to accompany employers and government officials on any government-sanctioned worksite safety inspection;
Employers should prepare as soon as possible to implement Safety-Review Committees with genuine input from employee groups and a meaningful process for employees to submit safety concerns. However, Governor Cuomo has stated that this bill will be amended in the near future, so not all provisions in this new Act are final. FNA will update this article when those changes are implemented.
You can read the HERO Act HERE.