April 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 109


April 16, 2021

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New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training

The New York City Council is planning to evaluate how effectively both the City, as an employer, and private employers disseminated and implemented COVID-19 workplace guidance over the past year with the goal of strengthening how the public and private sectors manage future public health emergencies. On February 28, 2021, the Council enacted Int. 2161-2020 (the “Law”), which establishes a board to review the workplace health and safety guidance that agencies and private employers issued to their respective employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly formed board will ultimately submit a final report and recommendations to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council by December 15, 2021. The Law is effective immediately.

Makeup of the Board

The board will consist of nine members who have “demonstrated expertise relevant to the purpose and duties of the board.” The members, who will receive no compensation for their service on the board, will include:

  • the commissioners of health and mental hygiene, citywide administrative services, consumer and workplace protection, and labor relations;

  • two members appointed by the Mayor;

  • two members appointed by the Speaker of the Council, one of whom is a member of organized labor; and

  • one member appointed by the Public Advocate.

Additionally, the Mayor will designate a chair from among the members of the board and an agency to provide administrative support. All members must be appointed by March 30, 2021. In the event of a vacancy, a successor will be appointed in the same manner as the original appointments.

The Board’s Task and Duties

The board’s mandate is to review how successful public and private employers were in communicating their health and safety policies and protocols to their employees and in providing any relevant employee training on these practices. Based on their evaluation of the information received, the board will then provide recommendations for improvement, as warranted. To be clear, the board’s mandate is limited; its job is not to evaluate how well or poorly the City fared in handling the pandemic as a government body, but rather, how it performed as an employer.

The board will hold two public hearings to solicit testimony from employees, relevant experts, organized labor, public employers, and private employers (with 10 or more employees) across a wide range of industries, including construction, non-profits, health care, retail, and hospitality. The board will assign dates for these hearings at its first meeting, which must be held by April 29, 2021.  Further, the board will provide 30-days’ public notice of the scheduled hearings and engage in a public outreach campaign to encourage participation by all relevant stakeholders.

Finally, the Law tasks the board with presenting its findings and recommendations in two reports: (1) a preliminary report produced within 60 days following the first public hearing, and (2) a final report by December 15, 2021.  The preliminary report will include initial recommendations to help both public and private employers more effectively protect and inform employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. In its final report, the board will finalize those recommendations and provide additional recommendations on health and safety protocols for future public health emergencies.

The board and its responsibilities will terminate 180 days after it submits its final report and recommendations.

We will continue to monitor the board’s progress and report any significant developments, such as hearing dates and other ways employers can participate in the process.


©2021 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 64



About this Author

Susan Gross Sholinsky, Labor Employment Attorney, Epstein Becker Green Law Firm
Member of the Firm

SUSAN GROSS SHOLINSKY is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She counsels clients on a variety of matters, in a practical and straightforward manner, with an eye toward reducing the possibility of employment-related claims. In 2013, Ms. Sholinsky was named to theNew York Metro Rising Stars list in the area of Employment & Labor.

Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper Labor Employment Attorney Epstein Becker Law Firm
Member of the Firm

NANCY GUNZENHAUSER POPPER is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green.

Ms. Popper:

  • Counsels clients on compliance with EEO laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, worker classification issues, and other federal, state, and local statutes governing the workplace

  • Advises employers in all facets of the employment relationship, from pre-employment considerations and hiring to terminations and post-employment...

Eric I. Emanuelson, Jr. Law Clerk New York
Law Clerk

ERIC I. EMANUELSON, JR.,* is a Law Clerk – Admission Pending – in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. He will be focusing his practice on disability laws, employment litigation, and employment training, practices, and procedures.

Prior to joining Epstein Becker Green, Mr. Emanuelson worked as a Legal Intern at the General Counsel’s Office of the largest labor union representing federal government employees. He also served as a Legislative Aide to Connecticut State Senator Edward Meyer.


Law Clerk - Admission Pending

Christopher Shur is a Law Clerk - Admission Pending - in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green.