BOMA Facts

On May 5, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) to protect New Yorkers from airborne illnesses such as COVID-19. The HERO Act will impact building owners and managers in a number of ways.

Section one of the law, which takes effect on June 4, 2021, requires the State Commissioner of Labor, working with the Department of Health, to develop and make public a “model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard for all work sites, differentiated by industry, to establish minimum requirements for preventing exposure to airborne infectious diseases in the workplace.” The act includes a range of topics to be covered by the standard, including, among others, health screenings, face coverings, personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment and common use surfaces, and social distancing. All private employers would then be required to implement such a standard, or its equivalent.

Section two of the HERO Act requires employers to establish a joint employer-employee workplace health and safety committee authorized to raise health and safety issues and evaluate workplace health and safety policies. The committee would be tasked with, among other things, raising health and safety concerns that an employer would have to respond to, review policies put in place pursuant to the Act, participate in governmental site visits related to the law, and have regularly-scheduled meetings during work hours.

The HERO Act also includes anti-harassment provisions and private right of action provisions that owners/managers should be aware of. In addition, there are some differences in implementation details between work forces with and without collective bargaining agreements. The Act also requires that the health plan is properly distributed to employees and new employees, and displayed prominently in the workplace.

You can read the entire bill HERE.