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Dec 22
State Proposes HERO Act Workplace Safety Committee Rules, Schedules February Hearing


The New York State Labor Department today a proposed a regulation​ on workplace safety committees. Some private employers in New York were required to permit employees to form these committees as of last November 1. The proposal is not binding on employers yet, but it previews the final rules.

The New York State HERO Act​, enacted and amended last spring, requires private employers with 10 or more employees to permit them to form workplace safety committees. The Labor Department is required to issue relevant regulations. The proposal published today is step one of that process.

The proposed rules include:

  • No obligation for employers to notify employees of the right to form committees.
  • An employer’s total number of employees includes all employees “within the State.” It includes employees on paid or unpaid leave if the employer “has a reasonable expectation that the employee will later return to active employment.” Further, it includes part-timers, new hires, temporary and seasonal workers. “Employees jointly employed by more than one employer shall be counted by each employer …” 
  • A committee may be formed “following a written request for recognition by at least two non-supervisory employees who work at the worksite.” Employers must respond “with reasonable promptness.”
  • Employers may deny requests if they already have committees that meet the HERO Act’s requirements.
  • A committee at a single worksite must have at least one employer representative and at least two non-supervisory employees. The maximum number of members is one-third the total number of employees at the worksite or 12, whichever is less. Worksites with less than 10 employees will have a committee of three.
  • Employers cannot choose which non-supervisory employees are on the committees.
  • The committees are authorized ​to:
    • Raise health and safety concerns, hazards, complaints and violations to the employer. The employer must respond
    • Review policies implemented as required by New York Labor Law relating to occupational safety and health, and provide appropriate feedback. 
    • Review policies adopted in response to any health or safety law, ordinance, rule, regulation, executive order, etc.
    • Participate in site visits by workplace safety and health regulators.
    • Review any reports the employer files related to workplace health and safety.
  • The definition of what constitutes a single worksite depends on a number of factors, but for insurance agencies and brokerages it probably means a single office location.
  • The committees can provide for up to four hours of training with pay for each member per calendar year. 
  • Meetings must be scheduled “at times that do not unreasonably conflict with the Employer’s business operations.”
  • Meetings must occur at least once per quarter for no longer than two hours per meeting. Employees are to be paid for time spent in the meetings. Additional meetings may be held outside work hours and without pay.
  • Employers can prohibit employees from performing committee duties during work hours, other than attendance at the quarterly meetings. Workplace safety committee duties, other than meeting attendance, may not interfere with regular work duties.
The Labor Department will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulation at 11:00 am on February 9, 2022 at a location to be determined. It is accepting comments from the public from now until five days after the last scheduled public hearing. 


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