COVID-19 Declared a Highly Contagious Communicable Disease..NYS Health Commissioner Enacts HERO Act
With the rapid passing and amending of the New York State Health and Essential Rights Act many non-public employers are now facing a new challenge brought about by the current pandemic. Until now, employers were required only to adopt a safety plan—either based on a model issued by the Department of Labor or of their own design—and, no later than September 7, distribute the plan to employees. However, on September 6, during a Labor Day commemoration, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the State’s health commissioner has designated COVID-19 a highly contagious airborne communicable disease that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. For purposes of the HERO Act, this designation means that employers are now required to activate their plans. Failure to do so can result in serious penalties for employers.
The NYSDOL can fine an employer $50 per day for failure to adopt a Safety Plan. The fine for failure to abide by the Safety Plan is $1,000 to $10,000. If the employer has had another violation of the HERO Act in the past six years, however, the NYDOL can issue larger fines. Employees can also sue if the employer has violated the Safety Plan and there is a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm that could result from the violation.
As a result of the unprecedented pace of this laws passing many employers, especially smaller businesses, may not be up to date on the scope and liability that is placed on New York State worksites. Join us in an upcoming virtual town hall discussion on the HERO Act and its impact with Governor Kathy Hochul's announcement on Monday
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