ALBANY — An act aimed at boosting health and safety in the workplace has been signed into law.
Known as the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or HERO for short, requires the Department of Labor and the Department of Health to set “enforceable” standards that businesses must follow when it comes to infectious airborne diseases like COVID-19.
Most workplaces will also need to allow employees to form safety committees. Additionally, it protects workers from retaliation if they report health and safety violations at work.
“For me, as a nurse, it’s so important to have these protections in place because I know how it has been affecting our workers, how many lives we’ve lost because of this,” said Assemblymember and bill sponsor Karines Reyes.
The legislation has been criticized by business groups who say the rules will lead to lawsuits and added costs.
Though the Governor signed off on it, it’s on the condition that lawmakers will make some amendments. The time before implementation is now expected to total 90 days rather than the original 30.
Additionally, there will be a window of opportunity for employers to fix violations.
“There’s a 30-day window when they’re notified of violations of the safety requirements that they would have a chance to fix it before they would be subject to enforcement or lawsuits,” NYS Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris said.
Gianaris says he expects the amendments will be passed before session ends.
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