This week, Governor Cuomo signed the NY-HERO Act into law, the bulk of which will go into effect on June 4th 2021. The bill mandates the Department of Labor (DOL) create sweeping regulations requiring workplace plans, standards, protective equipment, and responses to “airborne infectious diseases", which includes not just COVID-19, but potentially other airborne diseases such as the flu. The regulations could end up mandating costly equipment upgrades, disinfection procedures, modifications to work hours and schedules, and employee health screenings, to name a few. The bill allows any employee to file a civil suit against their employer for any alleged violations of the exposure plan.
Big I NY and a group of employer associations representing a wide swath of the private sector strongly opposed this bill. We urged legislative leaders to consider common-sense amendments, such as making the provisions effective only during emergencies, and eliminating private right of action. On Tuesday, Big I NY orchestrated an agent call-in campaign to individual legislators and leadership offices, resulting in over sixty phone calls. Ultimately, the Governor and legislature agreed to amend the bill to require the DOL to provide more specific guidelines in developing and implementing workplaces standards, and include provide employers with a “cure period" during which they can remedy violations before they can be sued. Greater detail around these amendments and a timeframe for their implementation are not currently known.
While these amendments are positive, we remain concerned that even the amended NY-HERO act will prove burdensome and challenging for employers to comply with. We will keep you apprised of developments surrounding the proposed amendments and promulgation of various regulations.
Contact Scott Hobson with questions