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New York HERO Act Enhanced Workplace Safety Committee Enforcement Provisions Enacted

On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Senate Bill 9450, which added new enforcement provisions to the New York Health And Essential Rights Act’s (NY HERO Act) workplace safety committee requirements. The new law went into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.

As a reminder, the NY HERO Act was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Section 1 of the NY HERO Act required employers to adopt and distribute an infectious disease exposure prevention plan (“safety plan”) and activate such safety plan upon the designation of an airborne infectious disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. While no current designation is in effect (the designation of COVID-19 ended on March 17, 2022), employers should be prepared to activate their safety plan in the event of a designation, and should review their existing safety plan periodically for any updates as required by the NY HERO Act.

Section 2, the often-overlooked portion of the NY HERO Act, provides employees the right to establish and administer a joint labor-management workplace safety committee. The recent law adds new enforcement provisions, and serves as an amendment to this section of the NY HERO Act. It requires employers to recognize workplace safety committees formed by employees pursuant to the NY HERO Act within five business days of receiving a request from employees for committee recognition. Failure to do so will result in penalties of $50 a day until the violation is remedied. Previously, there was no explicit timeframe required for employers to recognize a workplace safety committee and no related specific civil penalties.

While the New York Department of Labor has issued FAQ guidance related to Section 1 of the NY HERO Act, the new law is the first development or update regarding Section 2 since the NY HERO Act was enacted and subsequently amended.

The new law serves as a reminder that the NY HERO Act, and, relatedly, COVID-19’s impact on the workplace, are not completely in the rearview mirror. Employers should confirm their compliance with the NY HERO Act by:

  • evaluating their existing safety plans and revising or updating them as needed;

  • distributing their safety plans to all new hires;

  • including their safety plans in all updated handbooks;

  • ensuring their safety plans are posted in a visible and prominent location in the workplace; and

  • reviewing the workplace safety committee obligations and requirements, especially in light of the added enforcement provisions.

©2023 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 19

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.

Steven M. Swirsky labor employment lawyer health care and life sciences attorney
Member of the Firm

STEVEN M. SWIRSKY is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Health Care and Life Sciences practices, in the firm's New York office. He regularly represents employers in a wide range of industries, including retail, health care, manufacturing, banking and financial services, manufacturing, transportation and distribution, electronics and publishing. He frequently advises and represents United States subsidiaries and branches of Asian, European and other foreign-based companies.

Mr. Swirsky:

  • Advises employers on a full range of labor and...
Robert J. O’Hara Labor and employment lawyer Epstein Becker
Member of the Firm

ROBERT J. O’HARA* is a Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. His practice focuses on employment law counseling and litigation as well as human resources counseling, compliance, and training.

Mr. O’Hara’s experience includes:

  • Conducting and overseeing workplace investigations (including sexual harassment, bribery, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, product quality, supply chain theft, and malfeasance of every kind), executive terminations, and...
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...

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.