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Retail Employers in New York May Be Required to Develop and Implement Workplace Violence Prevention Plans

Retail employers in New York may experience significant changes to how they handle workplace violence prevention under Senate Bill S8358 (the bill). The bill was recently introduced in the New York State Senate and currently has the governor’s support. If passed, the bill would require comprehensive written workplace violence plans and hazard assessments for all retail businesses in the state. 

Key highlights of the bill include the following: 

  • Employers would be obligated to develop and implement a written plan outlining procedures for preventing, responding to, and reporting workplace violence incidents which must be provided at hire and annually thereafter; 
    • Employers would need to conduct regular assessments to identify potential risks in their workplaces such as:  
    • employees working late night or early morning hours;  
    • employees exchanging money with the public;  
    • employees working alone or in small numbers;  
    • uncontrolled access to the workplace; or 
    • areas of previous security problems; and 
  • All employees would be required to receive regular training (at hire and annually) on workplace violence prevention including de-escalation tactics, active shooter drills, and measures employees can take to protect themselves from risk.

Under the bill, covered retailers would be those that “sell consumer commodities at retail and which is not primarily engaged in the sale of food for consumption on the premises.” 

The written plan must be provided to employees in English, Spanish, and any other language requested by employees. All training must be conducted in English as well as the primary languages spoken in the workplace. 

The bill also contains recordkeeping requirements which will require employers to document each incident of workplace violence and maintain a copy of the documentation of each incident which will also be reported into a publicly accessible state database. 

Next Steps 

The bill is still in its early stages; however, retailer employers should become familiar with the bill to begin planning proactively for its passage by following the progression of the bill and understanding its potential impact on their business. Employers may also wish to assess their current policies and procedures related to workplace violence prevention to identify any gaps to determine how they would develop and implement a workplace violence plan and conduct hazard assessments. 

It is currently unclear if the state will be developing model plans and training materials to assist employers with compliance. It is also unclear when the state database for reporting would be expected to be operational. 

HR Works will monitor this topic and provide updates as they become available.  

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.