NY HERO Act Requires New Safety Protocols for NY Employers to Help Prevent the Spread of Airborne Diseases
On May 5, Governor Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (“NY HERO Act” or the “Act”) requiring the New York Department of Labor (“NY DOL”) to create minimum safety protocols with the aim of preventing the spread of airborne infectious diseases in the workplace. All private employers in New York, regardless of size, will be required to implement the NY DOL’s minimum standards in their workplace or create their own standards that at least meet the NY DOL’s minimum standards. The NY DOL standards will be industry specific and will address issues such as: cleaning and disinfecting protocols, personal protective gear (“PPE”), social distancing, ventilation and air flow requirements, employee health screenings, face coverings, and more. The NY DOL standards will apply to employees, independent contractors and visitors in the workplace. The NY DOL is expected to issue its standards by June 4, 2021.
In addition, the NY HERO Act requires that New York employers with 10 or more employees allow employees to create workplace safety committees. These committees would be made up of supervisory and non-supervisory employees and would be permitted to raise workplace health and safety concerns, as well as participate in government site visits, attend trainings and attend committee meetings related to workplace health and safety. This portion of the law goes into effect on November 1, 2021.
Finally, the NY HERO Act states that those covered under the Act cannot be retaliated against for raising concerns covered by the Act and provides for a private right of action seeking injunctive relief against an employer accused of violating the Act. This portion of the law takes effect June 4, 2021.
What Should Employers Do Now?
While employers wait for guidance from the NY DOL, they should review their health and safety protocols and speak with an attorney if they have questions or concerns.
Pro Bono Partnership will continue to monitor new information about the Act, and anticipates providing additional legal alerts and/or other educational materials after the NY DOL issues its guidance.
If you have questions, please contact the White Plains office of Pro Bono Partnership at 914-328-0674.
This document is provided as a general informational service to volunteers, clients, and friends of Pro Bono Partnership. It should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does distribution of this document create an attorney-client relationship.