The Business Council of New York State, whose membership includes over 3,500 member firms as well as hundreds of chambers of commerce and professional trade associations, has reviewed the above mentioned legislation and opposes its enactment.
This legislation would amend New York State's Labor Law by requiring new studies, policies and workplace training whether a need exists or not.
There is no question that violence follows employees to, and occurs in, the workplace and that vigilance and teamwork on the part of employers, employees and their collective bargaining agents is necessary to address this issue. However, imposition of this type of uniform mandate, without regard for the need, size, location or type of business, is the last step toward a solution, not the first step. The Business Council would prefer to see efforts toward a cooperative solution before a mandate such as this is considered.
The Business Council opposes this legislation for the following reasons:
In November 2000, Governor Pataki announced the development and availability of a Model Domestic Violence Employee Awareness and Assistance Policy for Private Business. This resulted from Chapter 368 of the laws of 1997. This called for an effort to make businesses aware of the availability of this model policy, provide technical support, information and encouragement to businesses, and survey businesses within four years to determine the extent of policy adoption. Since domestic violence is a part of overall violence in the workplace, The Business Council believes activities called for in this existing law should proceed and results evaluated before any new mandated actions are considered.
A program such as this that requires the vast majority of violence-free workplaces to spend time and funds on unneeded studies, analysis and training, diverts valuable resources from other uses. Supporters of this legislation have made no attempt to estimate of the cost of this legislation to businesses and organizations across New York State.
In workplaces where employees are represented by a collective bargaining agent, human resource professionals or business owners can work closely with bargaining agents and employees to evaluate and act upon specific situations that affect their worksite(s). If little or no violence issues exist, they are able to direct their energies to more mutually beneficial issues.
Employers already generally restrict access to the workplace to only employees or to those non-employees who have a bona fide business purpose for being on the premises.
In addition to the above objections, The Business Council has additional concerns about provisions in the bill including, when a person may request an inspection by the Commissioner, the authority of the Commissioner to go beyond the initial reason for the inspection, the directive for the Commissioner to adopt regulations involving the inspection of locker areas, personal property and other privacy issues, and the integration of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), an act which employers are already subject to, into this proposed legislation.
For these reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted by the Senate.