On May 5, Governor Cuomo signed the “HERO Act” into law. This act requires the Commissioner of Labor, in consultation with the Department of Health, to develop model airborne infectious disease prevention standards. The law requires employers to adopt the model prevention plan or a plan of their own. Plans must be posted in a conspicuous location, provided to all employees, and presented when requested by interested parties. The law also includes anti-retaliation protection for employees. Failure to comply can result in financial penalty assessments from the Department of Labor or private lawsuits from employees. When signing the bill, Governor Cuomo pledged forthcoming changes that would prevent frivolous lawsuits. This part of the law takes effect on June 4, 2021.
A second part of the law requires employers with at least ten employees to permit employees to set up a labor-management workplace safety committee. These committees must be allowed to review policies, raise concerns/complaints, participate in site visits performed by government entities, review reports filed by the employer, and meet at least quarterly during work hours. This part of the law takes effect on November 1, 2021.
Many business groups across the state, including the Construction Exchange, advocated against this bill. It is yet another anti-business law that hurts New York employers, and will ultimately end up hurting our state. We will pass additional information and guidance from the Department of Labor on to members when it becomes available.
The law can be viewed here https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s1034.