Choose Site

LawFlash

Employee Time Off and COVID-19: NJ Department of Labor & Workforce Development Issues Guidance

March 19, 2020

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL) has issued guidance for employees on navigating coronavirus (COVID-19) issues using benefits already available statewide, which the NJDOL touts as “among the most comprehensive… in the country, [and] which cover all employees.” With numerous COVID-19 cases confirmed in New Jersey and surrounding areas, employers should carefully analyze requests for time off related to COVID-19. Because of New Jersey’s expansive laws, time off (sometimes with pay) is available in many circumstances when an employee has not tested positive for COVID-19.

The NJDOL released this guidance and this chart.

In summary:

Earned Sick Leave may be available when an employee is unable to work because the employee

  • tests positive for or has symptoms of COVID-19;
  • is told to self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19;
  • is at greater COVID-19 risk due to a preexisting health condition and does not go to work;
  • had their workplace ordered closed due to COVID-19;
  • is caring for their child whose school or childcare is ordered closed or is closed due to COVID-19; or
  • is caring for a family member[1] with COVID-19 or symptoms of it.

Family Leave Insurance may be available to an employee who

  • is caring for a family member with COVID-19 or symptoms of it.

Temporary Disability Insurance benefits may be available to an employee who

  • tested positive for or had symptoms of COVID-19 and used up Earned Sick Leave, but cannot return to work; or
  • does not go to work because of greater COVID-19 risk due to a preexisting health condition.

Workers’ Compensation benefits may be available when an employee

  • contracts COVID-19 for a work-related reason (i.e., working with someone who had COVID-19); or
  • is directed by an employer or public health official to self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 during the course of their work.

Unemployment Insurance benefits may be available to an employee

  • whose employer voluntarily closed, temporarily or otherwise, because of COVID-19;
  • who used up Earned Sick Leave and cannot return to work because their workplace was ordered closed due to COVID-19;
  • who refuses to go to work when their workplace remains open despite it having been ordered to close due to COVID-19;
  • who works 80% or less of their normal hours because of a reduction-in-force related to COVID-19; or
  • who does not go to work because of greater COVID-19 risk due to a preexisting health condition.

Employers also should keep federal legislation in mind. As of this writing, employers with fewer than 500 employees should be aware of a pending federal bill that would expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19.

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold.

Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Princeton
August W. Heckman, III       
Terry D. Johnson
Thomas A. Linthorst
Richard G. Rosenblatt
Michelle S. Silverman



[1]  “Family Member” is defined broadly to include a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, parent, grandparent, domestic or civil union partner, anyone related by blood to the employee, or anyone whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of family.