As expected, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on May 5, 2021 the Health and Essentials Right (HERO) Act. The Act has two main components. First, the Act will require all employers in New York to implement safety standards and adopt a prevention plan to protect against further spread of, not only COVID-19, but other infectious diseases in the workplace. Second, the bill would require employers with at least 10 employees to allow employees to “establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee.” Each committee would be composed of employee and employer designees, provided at least two-thirds are non-supervisory employees.
Our previous article on this issue, New York State Passes Legislation Mandating COVID-19 Safety Standards in the Workplace, provides a more detailed look at the provisions of the new law.
Under the new law, employees have been defined to include independent contractors, individuals working for staffing agencies, contractors, or subcontractors on behalf of the employer on any worksite, as well as individuals delivering goods or transporting people to and or from the worksite on behalf of the employer.
It is expected that the New York Department of Labor will be developing and issuing industry specific exposure prevention standards. The requirement to adopt plans will not be in effect until after the DOL establishes and issues industry specific models.
The Workplace Safety Committee that is now allowable under law are not scheduled to take effect until November 1, 2021. These committees, which would be made up of both employee and employer representatives, may do all of the following:
- Raise health and safety concerns, hazards, complaints, and violations to which the employer must respond.
- Review any policy put in place in the workplace required by the NY Labor Law or the Workers’ Compensation Law and provide feedback to such policy.
- Review the adoption of any policy in the workplace in response to any health or safety law, ordinance, rule, regulation, executive order, or other related directive.
- Participate in any site visit by any governmental entity responsible for enforcing safety and health standards.
- Review any report filed by the employer related to the health and safety of the workplace.
- Regularly schedule a meeting during work hours at least once a quarter.
In addition to paid quarterly meetings, employers must allow “safety committee designees” to attend a training on “the function of workers safety committees, rights established under [§ 27-d], and an introduction to occupational safety and health,” “without a loss of pay.”
PRINTING United Alliance will continue to keep you updated on the progress of potential regulatory actions. For more information, please contact Marci Kinter, firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Jones, email@example.com.