NYS Hero Act

The NYS Hero Act mandates airborne disease protections for workers. Employers are required to have a plan that meets or exceeds the baseline established by New York, and to inform and consult with workers. 

Plans for COVID-19 should be in place in all workplaces until the health commissioner states otherwise.

What is the NY Hero Act?

The NY Hero Act mandates all private employers in New York State to establish a written exposure prevention plan for airborne diseases like COVID-19.  Plans must be shared with employees within 30 days of their creation

Plans go into effect when the state Commissioner of Health designates a disease as representing high risk to the community. Plans must be assessed and to make sure they meet state and federal standards, and must be verbally reviewed with employees. 

The Hero Act also says that employers with 10 or more employees must allow workers to form health and safety committees.

What do plans include?

Plans should include:

  • health screenings
  • face coverings
  • physical distancing
  • hand washing facilities
  • cleaning and disinfection plans

Workplaces can use model plans developed by the state, or create their own plan, as long as it meets or exceeds the standards of the state plans.

A general model plan can be found here. The state has developed model plans for Agriculture, Construction, Delivery, Domestic Workers, Emergency Response, Food Service, Manufacturing and Industrial, Personal Services, Private Education, Private Transportation by Automobile, and Retail. For offices, the state recommends using the general plan. If an employer has multiple worksites, plans should be adapted for each site.

Detailed standards for the plans can be found here.

Who is covered by NY Hero?

The Hero Act covers private employers in New York State, and includes people at work sites over which employers have the ability to exercise control, including independent contractors, individuals working for staffing agencies, and other workers not traditionally defined as employees.

  • If your employer is not based in New York, but your worksite is covered as long as the employer has control.
  • If you are working from home, your employer does not have to provide a plan for you.
  • If your employer provides transportation to and from work, they must have a plan for that transportation.
  • Health care workers may be covered by other state and federal guidelines.

What if my employer isn't following the law?

If your employer does not provide a plan for your worksite, or is not following the plan they created, call the  WNYCOSH hotline at (716) 206-3550. Workers are protected from retaliation for asking questions about compliance with their employer’s plan. 

Employers can be fined $50 a day for not creating a plan and up to $10,000 for not following their plan. Employees also have a right to sue their employer  for not creating or following a plan under certain situations.

What about health and safety committees?

Under the Hero Act, employers with more than 10 employees are required to allow employees to form a joint labor-management workplace safety committee.  These committees can address any health and safety issues in the workplace, including COVID-19.

The committees must be at least 2/3 non-supervisory employees, and include at least one employer representative. Committees should be co-chaired by an employer representative and a worker representative. Workers choose their own members of the committee. Committees meet for 2 hours every quarter.

Health and safety committees can:

  • raise concerns about health and safety issues to the employer and employers must respond
  • review any health and safety procedure mandated by the employer, including COVID-19 plans
  • participate in site visits and inspections from government agencies
  • review any health and safety reports filed by the employer

Workers have the right to form and participate in these committees without any retaliation, including being fired or demoted.

A fact sheet for health and safety committees can be found here, and an example letter to an employer can be found here.

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