Hotels Across the U.S. Are Utilizing “Panic Button” Technology
With panic buttons becoming popular among hotels across the world, many states are now passing new laws. Read this blog to learn more about these devices.
Hotels across the world have constantly dealt with issues regarding employee safety. Given that many hotel jobs require cleaning — typically while being alone — this has led to many sexual harassment issues, sexual assaults, and unsafe working conditions overall. Given these dangers, many hotels have trouble employing the staff they need.
Another concern that hotel workers have is that they may feel helpless and reluctant to report an incident to their manager. They may feel like other employees will retaliate, or there may be other complications.
Due to these concerns, a new technology called the “panic button” has been developed. These devices include a simple button that is pressed when an employee needs help in an emergency situation. This includes incidents such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, ongoing crime, or any other emergency situation that occurs in the employee’s presence.
These panic buttons have been a topic of discussion for years, and many states have actually started utilizing them in their hotels.
States Joining In
Many states have already begun to implement these devices. In addition, many other states have plans to follow suit.
The Chicago City Council approved the ordinance in the summer of 2018, and shortly thereafter, the ordinance was introduced to the California Assembly. While it passed the Assembly, it didn’t make its way into law. However, some local ordinances in California did get approval. These ordinances are in Long Beach and Sacramento.
New Jersey is another state that is really recognizing the need for this technology. In fact, New Jersey became the very first state to require hotels (with over 100 guest rooms) to implement panic devices to certain employees. The law just went into effect in January of this year, and we expect other states to also jump on board.
If you own a hotel in New Jersey, then it’s important to keep up with the latest laws to ensure proper compliance.
Details of Law
As laws vary from state to state, we’ll cover the law that pertains to New Jersey for an example.
The law, officially called The New Jersey Panic Device Law, defines a hotel as being more than just a hotel. The law includes inns, boarding houses, motels, and other establishments that work in a similar manner. Regardless of the type of hotel, the establishments must have at least 100 rooms.
When defining employees, the law covers and protects hotel employees, contractors, and subcontractors. Furthermore, it applies to an employee who performs housekeeping and room service functions.
Use of Panic Devices
Under the new law, employers must provide employees that work alone in a guestroom a panic device. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from charging employees for their devices; the business must pay for the expense.
Once the panic button is used, the employee should stop their work and proceed to a safe area.
First and foremost, it is illegal for an employer to take adverse action against an employee for using the device. Once the device is used, the employer should obviously respond to the call immediately, but they also must:
- Note the accusation as “violence,” and also put the guest name on a list and retain the list for five years, while also including other details about the incident.
- Report any alleged crime to law enforcement and cooperate in the investigation if needed.
- Reassign the victim to another work area away from the guest’s room for the duration of the guest’s stay.
- Notify other employees scheduled to work on that guest’s room of the incident, and give them the option to service the room with another employee or decline service to that room for the duration of their stay.
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