•  
May 13, 2020

New Jersey Amends Four Leave Laws

New Jersey has amended its leave laws to make them available in the event of state designated emergencies arising out of an epidemic of a communicable disease (hereinafter referred to as “epidemic”).  As a reminder, New Jersey provides four different leave laws.  They are the Earned Sick Leave law, Family Leave Act, Family Leave Insurance, and State Temporary Disability.  Beginning March 25, 2020, individuals can take expanded leave, as more fully described below:

Earned sick leave

New Jersey’s earned sick leave law provides that employees earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked up to 40 hours per year.

Current law allows an employee to take earned sick leave for one’s own needs, or to attend to the needs of a family member, for the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental condition, including preventive care services; to obtain psychological or physical services, or to attend to legal matters as a result of domestic or sexual violence; due to a closure of the employee’s worksite, or closure of his/her child’s school or childcare provider as a result of a declared public health emergency; or to attend a school-related conference.   This use of leave has been expanded to include the following reasons:

  • A closure of the employee's workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee by order of a public official or because of a state of emergency declared by the Governor.
  • The declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor, or the issuance by a health care provider or the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority of a determination that the presence in the community of the employee, or a member of the employee's family in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others.
  • During a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or upon the recommendation, direction, or order of a healthcare provider or the Commissioner of Health or other authorized public official, the employee undergoes isolation or quarantine, or cares for a family member in quarantine, as a result of suspected exposure to a communicable disease and a finding by the provider or authority that the presence in the community of the employee or family member would jeopardize the health of others.

Family Leave Act

The Family Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave in a 24-month period for the birth of a child, adoption or placement of child into foster care, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition (for a summary of the Family Leave Act, see our prior Benefit Beat article).  This law applies to employers with 30 or more employees. 

The reason for leave has been expanded to include in the event of a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, an epidemic, which:

  • Requires in-home care or treatment of a child due to the closure of the school or place of care of the child of the employee, by order of a public official due to the epidemic or other public health emergency;
  • Prompts the issuance by a public health authority of a determination, including by mandatory quarantine, requiring or imposing responsive or prophylactic measures as a result of illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease or known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease because the presence in the community of a family member in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others; or
  • Results in the recommendation of a health care provider or public health authority, that a family member in need of care by the employee voluntarily undergo self-quarantine as a result of suspected exposure to a communicable disease because the presence in the community of that family member in need of care by the employee, would jeopardize the health of others.

Certification.  An employer may require that any period of family leave be supported by certification issued by a duly licensed health care provider.  Where the certification is epidemic-related, the certification is deemed sufficient if it includes leave taken due to:

  • Closure of the school or place of care of the child, the date on which the closure of the school or place of care of the child of the employee commenced, and the reason for such closure;
  • A public health authority’s issuance of a determination requiring or imposing responsive or prophylactic measures as a result of illness caused by an epidemic, the date of issuance of the determination and the probable duration of the determination; or
  • A health care provider or public health authority recommends that a family member in need of care by the employee voluntarily undergo self-quarantine, the date of the recommendation, the probable duration of the condition, and the medical or other facts within the health care provider or public health authority’s knowledge regarding the condition.

Intermittent leave.  Leave taken due to an epidemic may be taken intermittently if the covered individual:

  1. Provides the employer with prior notice of the leave as soon as practicable; and
  2. Makes a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the operations of the employer and, if possible, provide the employer, prior to the commencement of the intermittent leave, with a regular schedule of the day(s) of the week on which the intermittent leave will be taken.

Denial of leave.  The key employee exemption, otherwise applicable to the family leave law, does not apply in the event the leave is taken for an epidemic.

Family Leave Insurance and Temporary Disability Benefits

Family leave insurance is a wage replacement benefit available for baby bonding, to care for a seriously ill family member, or to attend to matters related to domestic violence (see our prior Benefit Beat article for a summary of this program). The temporary disability law provides an individual with temporary benefits for a disability caused by non-occupational sickness or accident. 

Under both laws, the reasons for leave has been expanded to include in the event of a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, an epidemic, which requires in-home care or treatment of the employee or to provide in-home care or treatment of the family member of the employee required due to:

  1. The issuance by a healthcare provider or the commissioner or other public health authority of a determination that the presence in the community of the employee or employee’s family member may jeopardize the health of others; and
  2. The recommendation, direction, or order of the provider or authority that the employee or employee’s family member be isolated or quarantined as a result of suspected exposure to a communicable disease.

State temporary disability is payable on the first day rather than the eighth day for leave that is taken for an epidemic.

Additional information about the Family Insurance Program and Temporary Disability Benefits is available from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development website

 

Accelerated Recovery Resources

Access articles and tools to help your business generate cash, improve leverage, and align & transform as you recover from the pandemic.

COVID-19 Resources

Access all COVID-19 related articles to help your business respond to the pandemic.

Insights in Your Inbox