Holding Out for a HERO No Longer: Health & Safety Plans Must be Ready by August 5, 20201!

Originally Published : August 2, 2021

Dear HL Clients and Friends,

The New York Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act) requires nearly ALL employers in the state to adopt a health and safety plan to protect workers form future airborne infectious disease outbreaks.  Similar to the  NY Forward Plan, you must have your Airborne Infectious Disease Policy in place and in writing by Thursday, August 5, 2021, or face monetary penalties.

The HERO Act was written into law with COVID-19 in mind, but as we discussed in our June HR Confidential newsletter, the law covers all other airborne infectious diseases and will likely be with us well into the future.

The New York State Department of Labor (NYDOL) has finally published an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention standard and general model airborne infectious disease prevention plan, as well as a plan specifically for the food service industry.

You can choose to use the NYDOL model plan, which can be found here, or you can design your own plan that meets or exceeds the State’s minimum requirements. As of right now, we recommend sticking with the NYDOL plan, and we can assist with the creation of a custom plan should you decide that option better suits your specific needs. Here are the most important points to keep in mind for right now:

  • Employers must provide the plan to your employees in English and the primary language of each individual employee, if available.
  • Employers do not need to implement the plan until the New York State Commissioner of Health designates an infectious agent or disease as a highly contagious communicable disease (whether COVID-19 or otherwise) that presents a serious risk of harm to the public health. Currently no such designation exists, but with everything COVID related, you can expect this to change at a moment’s basis.
  • There are financial risks!
    • If an employer fails to adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan by August 5, 2021, it may be subject to a penalty of at least $50 per day until a plan is implemented.
    • If an employer fails to comply with its adopted plan during a designated airborne infectious disease period, it may be subject to a penalty ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 ($1,000 to $20,000 if the employer is found to have violated its plan for a second time within six years from the first violation).
  • A collection of links for a deeper dive into the HERO Act thanks to our friends at SHRM.

Another reminder, please sign up for HR Confidential, our firm’s employment practices focused newsletter and client engagement program, geared specifically to items like this and other employment related matters, please join by click on the below link.


Here is the link again for the DOL’s model plan,


Again, we are here to assist, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns—we are all in this together.