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July 7, 2021

New York State Department of Labor Issues HERO Act Guidance

As discussed in our prior legal alert, on May 5, 2021, NYS Governor Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act into law. Governor Cuomo subsequently signed a bill amending certain provisions of the HERO Act. 

As previously noted, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HERO Act directed the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), to develop a model airborne infectious disease standard. The NYSDOL has now published its model standard, which can be accessed here.

Additionally, the NYSDOL has published a model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan, which can be accessed here, as well as industry-specific model exposure prevention plans for the agriculture, construction, delivery services, domestic workers, emergency response, food services, manufacturing and industry, personal services, private education, private transportation, and retail industries. The HERO Act requires employers in New York State to adopt one of the model plans or to create their own plan that equals or exceeds the minimum standards published by the NYSDOL by August 5, 2021. Employers are also required to post, distribute, and review the plan with employees.

Separately, employers with 10 or more employees are required to permit establishment of joint labor-management safety committees composed of two-thirds nonsupervisory employees. These safety committees have the authority to engage in the following activities:

  • Raise health and safety concerns
  • Review policies relating to occupational safety and health
  • Review policies adopted in response to health and safety laws, rules, and regulations
  • Participate in site visits by a governmental agency responsible for enforcing health and safety standards
  • Review reports filed by the employer related to health and safety of the workplace
  • Regularly schedule meetings once per quarter for up to two hours 

In addition, employers are required to allow safety committee designees to attend up to four hours of training without loss of pay. The safety committee provisions of the HERO Act do not become effective until November 2021; however, employers should begin planning now for how they will address these new requirements.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Bob Heary, Labor & Employment Practice Area Chair, at rheary@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area.

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