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The HERO Act Explained for NY Employers

In anticipation of another coronavirus outbreak that could result in a situation similar to that currently experienced by India, the New York state government has passed the HERO Act.

New York passed the Health and Essential Rights Act (NY HERO Act) on May 5, 2021, as some officials believe that the United States will follow in India’s recent footsteps. While several experts take different stances on the justifiability of taking steps to limit an outbreak of the virus in America based on another country’s exposure, New York-based businesses should take note of the New York Act which places a new set of rules on employers to ensure workplace safety.

The Act requires employers in New York to create and enforce an exposure prevention plan for airborne infectious diseases. Your plan can either replicate the industry-specific model safety plans issued by the New York Department of Labor, or it can be an alternative plan created by your company. Either plan must address minimum requirements for workplace safety against airborne infectious diseases (including health screenings, mask mandates, hygiene and social distancing guidelines, quarantine and isolation procedures, exposure notifications, and regular inspections).

Further, business owners with over 10 employees (or an annual payroll of over $800,000) must allow employees to create safety committees - largely to ensure that employers follow safety protocols to-the-t and imitate government workplaces’ safety standards.

What does the HERO Act mean for you as a small employer in New York?

The NY Governor has issued deadlines for creating and establishing the model safety plan (June 4, 2021) and creating the workplace safety committees (November 1, 2021). If you choose to create an alternative safety plan, it should either meet or exceed the minimum requirements provided by the industry-specific model plans. Also, the rules and requirements laid forth by your employee workplace safety committee should be complied with by November.

Health Insurance Can Further Protect Your Team

While prevention is a great way to ensure your workers stay healthy, it’s not always possible. People get sick. It’s a part of life. What can really help is if you have the right group health insurance coverage to offer them a way to get the healthcare they need to recover from illnesses. NY Small Health works with health insurance companies like HealthFirst, which will offer health insurance benefits to your team for taking steps to stay healthy (like acupuncture and exercise points). Taking care of your employees’ health not only creates a healthier workplace, it saves money.

Talk to an insurance specialist today and cross off another goal on your list.

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