Since 2006, public employers in New York have been required to implement programs to prevent and minimize workplace violence.1 Public school employers, including public school districts, New York City public schools, Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), and County Vocational Education and Extension Boards, were previously exempted from the law. A new law effective January 4, 2024, however, amends Section 27-b of the Labor Law (Workplace Violence Prevention Law), to remove this exemption and extend certain workplace violence prevention obligations to public school employers.
Public school employers are now required to:
- develop and post a written policy statement about the employer’s workplace violence prevention program goals and objectives;
- conduct a risk evaluation by examining the workplace for potential hazards related to workplace violence with an authorized employee representative;
- for employers with 20 or more full-time permanent employees, develop a written workplace violence prevention program that (i) explains how it is to be implemented, (ii) provides details about the risks identified in the basic evaluation, (iii) explains how the employer will address those risks, and (iv) includes a system to report any incidents of workplace violence;
- provide training and information for employees regarding the workplace violence prevention program, including any risk factors identified and what employees can do to protect themselves;
- document workplace violence incidents and maintain those records; and
- annually review all workplace violence incidents to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the program or identified risk factors.
The amended law establishes the following deadlines for public school employers:
- Adoption of a policy statement by February 3, 2024;
- Completion of a workplace risk determination by March 4, 2024;
- Enactment of a workplace violence prevention program by March 19, 2024; and
- Full compliance with all applicable regulations by May 3, 2024.
The New York State Department of Labor has created an informational website that provides model templates and policies for employers, including public school employers. Covered employers are also welcome to use their own tailored templates, forms, and policies, and it is recommended they partner with legal counsel to develop compliant documents and procedures.