On May 5th, 2021, the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) was signed into law by then Governor Andrew Cuomo. The HERO Act was initiated due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and the effects it has had on our society, it introduces extensive new workplace health and safety protections. The purpose of the Act is to create a framework for employers to follow in the future to protect employees against viruses in order to safeguard against a future pandemic and to prevent another pandemic of the same scale as COVID-19.
Employers are now required to either adopt New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan or adopt their own alternative. If employers choose to adopt their own alternative standard, they must do so in a way that meets or exceeds the standards laid out by NYS DOL. Private employers had until August 5th to comply. In doing so, employers are also expected to disseminate a copy to their employees, which include all full-time part-time, independent contractors, etc. in writing.