NY HERO Act Amended and Employers Have More Time to Comply

On June 11, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation (SB 6768) amending the recently enacted NY HERO Act that:

  • Requires the New York State Department of Labor Commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Health, to create and publish a general model airborne infectious disease exposure standard for all worksites and, where appropriate, differentiated by industry.
  • Requires private employers to establish an airborne infectious disease exposure plan by adopting the model standard, or an alternative plan that equals or exceeds the model standard. 
  • Requires employers to provide written notice to workers about the model standard.
  • Allows employees to establish and administer joint labor-management workplace safety committees.

Under the amendments:

  • Adopting a Plan –  Within 30 days after the commissioner publishes the model general standard and the model standard relevant to the industry, each employer must establish an airborne infectious disease exposure plan (by either adopting the state model or creating an alternative plan that is at least equivalent to it). Nonsupervisory employees are prohibited from being responsible for overseeing employer compliance with the plan.
  • Notice of Plan – Employers must give employees a copy of the plan within 30 days after they adopt it; within 15 days after the employer reopens when an airborne infectious disease causes it to close; and upon hire for new employees. Businesses currently open must give their employees copies of the established plan within 60 days after the commissioner publishes the model standard relevant to their industry.

Under the amendments, the effective date for the law is July 4, 2021 (but will probably be July 5 to account for the July 4 holiday). The commissioner must publish the standards by July 5, 2021, and employers will have 30 days from the date they are published to establish a plan and then 30 days to give employees copies of it. Employers are no longer required to meet the June 4, 2021 compliance date set by the original HERO Act because the standards haven’t been published. The NY HERO Act website will have more information as soon as it's released.

Note: Under the amendments, safety committee designees’ training can be no longer than four hours and must be paid.