As explained in our previous Legal Notices available here and here, the New York Health Essential Rights Act (âHERO Actâ) requires all private employers, among others, to develop plans to prevent infectious diseases. The HERO Act, signed in May, directed the New York State Department of Labor (âDOLâ) to develop minimum standards and model plans for different types of workplaces.
On July 6, 2021, DOL issued the minimum standards and model plans to facilitate compliance with the HERO Act. The guidelines and model plans are available on the DOL website for information on the HERO Act.
The HERO Act gives employers 30 days from the date DOL publishes model plans to either: (1) adopt the model plan; or (2) adopt a plan that meets or exceeds the standards set out in the master plan. In addition, employers must provide the written plan to all employees no later than 60 days after accepting a plan. After that, the employer must give the employees a copy of the plan when they are hired.
Now that DOL has published the minimum standards and model plans, employers have 30 days to adopt a compliant plan. In other words, employers have until August 5, 2021 to adopt a plan.
The DOL has published several industry-specific templates, so it is important for employers to consult the template when developing their own plan. Importantly, however, the plans only need to be activated if an airborne infectious disease has been identified by the New York State Commissioner of Health. So far the Commissioner has not made such an appointment.
For now, employers should develop and adopt a compliant prevention plan, but these plans need not be active unless and until the commissioner designates an illness. In addition, employers should consider Part Two of the HERO Act, which comes into force on November 1, 2021. This part requires employers with at least 10 employees to establish health and safety committees and the DOL is expected to publish further expected guidance before it becomes effective.