An Introduction to Hotel Panic Button Laws
Some states and cities have recently enacted legislation requiring hotels, motels, and other similar businesses to provide their staff with hotel employee panic buttons to increase safety and security. Let’s discuss why these laws are necessary and go over their requirements.*
*The information contained in this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.
Why are these laws necessary?
Unfortunately, hotel workers are frequently harassed and assaulted. Cleaning staff, for example, often work alone and enter guests’ rooms — which can sometimes be dangerous.
One survey of 500 hotel workers found that 60% had been sexually harassed by guests, and nearly half of hotel housekeepers said guests had exposed themselves to them. Many workers fear getting trapped in a room with a violent guest and being unable to contact authorities.
New Jersey panic button law
New Jersey’s hotel panic button requirements (S2986/A4439) went into effect in December 2019. The law requires hotels, motels, inns, and similar businesses with at least 100 guest rooms to provide their employees with panic devices whenever they’ll be working alone.
Among other requirements, businesses must keep records of inappropriate guest conduct, report criminal conduct to law enforcement, and notify employees if the guest whose room they’re assigned to service has been involved in any alleged incidents (employees can then choose to opt-out of servicing that guest’s room).
Illinois panic button law
The Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act (part of the Workplace Transparency Act) requires hotels, casinos, and similar businesses to provide all lone workers with a safety device. It went into effect in July 2020.
These businesses cannot retaliate against employees for using the safety devices in a reasonable manner, and are also required to “develop, maintain and comply with a written anti-sexual harassment policy to protect employees against sexual assault and sexual harassment by guests.”
Washington State panic button law
Washington amended its labor regulations with RCW 49.60.515 to require panic devices for hotel workers, including housekeepers, room service attendants, janitors, and more. Similar to other regulations of its kind, businesses are also responsible for creating an anti-sexual harassment policy under this law.
For hotels and motels with more than 60 rooms, the law went into effect in January 2020, while other covered businesses had until January 2021 to comply. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has published guidance to help businesses with compliance.
Other similar mandates
Even in states where there is no statewide panic button mandate, individual cities are making their own rules about panic buttons for hotel workers. In the state of California alone, cities that have established their own ordinances include Sacramento, Oakland, Long Beach, and Santa Monica.
Additionally, some workers’ union contracts require hotels to provide panic buttons to employees, regardless of state and local laws.
This is certainly not the last you’ll see of this type of legislation. As people continue to fight for workers’ rights, more states and cities will likely propose similar laws.
Additionally, as a business owner, you want your employees to feel safe at work. Even if you’re not required by law to provide panic buttons to your staff, it’s important to demonstrate your commitment to their safety and security.
If you’re looking for hotel employee safety devices for your staff, consider Apartment Guardian, a personal panic button that’s activated by pressing and holding a button for 3 seconds. These discreet, easy-to-use devices are a cost-effective solution for keeping your employees as safe as possible.