What employers should know about NY safety committees
We discussed the NY Hero Act in our August blog regarding plans for businesses. The second section of the act regarding safety committees went into effect in November 2021. It allowed businesses with 10 or more employees to establish safety committees.
Do safety committees apply to your business?
When determining whether the safety committees part of the NY Hero Act applies to your business, the first step is knowing how to count your number of employees. A National Law Review article provides an explanation. For the 10-employee threshold, employers must count employees that are:
- Newly hired
- Seasonal employees
- On paid or unpaid leave
- Under disciplinary suspension
- Under temporary leaves but expected to return to active employment
What is the purpose forming safety committees?
Safety committees would address employees’ concerns about safety and health issues in the workplace. The Hero Act does not require lawyers to establish safety committees. However, if employees request a safety committee (even if they are non-unionized), New York employers with 10 or more employees must allow it.
How are committees formed?
The ratio of supervisors to employees on a committee must be 1:2. For example, a company of 10 employees would have a committee comprised of one supervisor and two employees. Larger companies can have up to 12 committee members and the supervisor to employees ratio must remain 1:2.
What obligations do employers have to the committees?
- Employers must respond in writing within a reasonable amount of time to safety and health issues raised by the committee (hazards, complaints and workplace violations)
- If the committee requests policies or reports that relate to its duties for workplace safety, the employer must respond in writing within a reasonable amount of time
- The employer must appoint an employer representative to the committee to act as co-chair