ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Senate Democratic Majority on Monday advanced legislation to stand up for workers in New York State. This package will enact the “NY Hero Act,” sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, which requires the creation of health and safety standards for COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases in the workplace.

This package also includes legislation to encourage employer use of shared work programs to avoid layoffs and legislation to increase the amount of shared work benefits to the maximum allowed by federal law. Also, these bills will promote career paths into healthcare, permit employee time off for vaccination appointments, and grant an enhanced death benefit to families of deceased public employees.

“To address the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, we must protect and support a strong workforce,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Workers across the state have shown incredible selflessness and perseverance throughout the pandemic, and this legislation is a step in recognizing and addressing their sacrifices. I commend my colleagues in the Senate Majority for sponsoring this legislation that will have a positive impact on so many hardworking New Yorkers.”

The legislation passed by the Senate Majority includes:

  • NY Hero Act: This bill, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, will create airborne infectious disease standards, which requires employers to implement an infectious disease exposure prevention plan.
  • Shared Work Program Petition: This bill, sponsored by Senator Shelley B. Mayer, will allow employees to petition their employer to apply for the shared work program in order to avoid layoffs or to rehire laid off workers.
  • Vaccination Leave: This bill, sponsored by Senator Andrew Gounardes, will grant public and private employees four hours of time off, per dose, to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Healthcare Employment Incentivization: This bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy will require the New York State Department of Labor and Department of Health to create a program to incentivize unemployed individuals to enter short-staffed jobs in healthcare by expediting training and certification.
  • Shared Work Program Benefit Extension: This bill, sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos, will increase the amount of unemployment insurance benefits an employee can claim under the shared work program to limits of the federal maximum.
  • Public Employee Death Benefit: This bill, sponsored by Senator Andrew Gounardes, will extend previously enacted accidental death benefits to the families of frontline workers who have passed away due to COVID-19.