Labor & Employment Law Alert

As explained in our previous alert, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Health and Essential Rights Act (“HERO Act”) into law on May 5, 2021, requiring employers in New York to implement workplace health and safety plans to prevent exposure to airborne infectious diseases. Under the HERO Act, the New York Department of Labor is also directed to issue industry-specific model standards that employers must follow when developing their health and safety plans. At the time of writing our previous alert, the Department of Labor’s model standard guidelines had not been released. The model standards are now available and can be found here.

Employers are encouraged to read through the model standards relevant to their specific industry. Health and safety templates have been released for the following industries:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Delivery Services
  • Domestic Workers
  • Emergency Response
  • Food Services
  • Manufacturing and Industry
  • Personal Services
  • Private Education
  • Private Transportation
  • Retail

All New York employers are required to implement health and safety plans that mirror the model standard guidelines or, alternatively, may develop their own plan that meets or exceeds these standards.  

Once a health and safety plan is implemented that complies with the Department of Labor’s model standards, employers are required to inform their employees by distributing their plans in writing in English and the primary language of each employee. Additionally, employers must also post their health and safety plan in a visible and prominent location within the worksite, and include them in employee handbooks.

At this time, plans are not required to be in effect; however, Employers’ health and safety plans must go into immediate effect when an airborne infectious disease is designated by the New York State Commissioner of Health as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. 

Employers should therefore review the model standard for their specific industry and adopt a health and safety plan that meets or exceeds that standard to be prepared.

[1] The author thanks law clerk Jeffrey Meehan for his assistance in preparing this client alert.


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