In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers in New Jersey and New York have amended the labor and employment laws of their respective states to provide greater protections to employees during this unprecedented time. A brief summary is provided below:
On March 20, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 3848 (“A3848”) into law, which went into effect immediately. A3848 prohibits all New Jersey employers for the duration of the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency (set forth in Executive Order 103 of 2020) from terminating or otherwise penalizing an employee who requests to take or takes time off from work based on the recommendation of a licensed medical professional because the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease. In addition, an employer may not refuse to reinstate the employee to the position he or she held at the time of taking leave and may not reduce any of the employee’s terms of employment (e.g., seniority, status, benefits, pay, etc.)
A3848 provides that an employee may file a complaint with the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“Commissioner”) or initiate a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey when a violation has occurred. In the event that the Commissioner or a court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that A3848 was violated, the employee must be reinstated to his or her position and the employer will be fined $2,500.
On March 18, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 8091 (“S8091”), which also went into effect immediately. S8091 mandates that most New York employers provide paid sick leave to an employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state, the New York Department of Health, a local board of health, or any other governmental entity authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19. The amount of paid sick leave required depends on the number of employees (as of January 1, 2020), annual revenue, and type of employer as follows:
- All public employers in the State of New York, including municipal governments and school districts: 14 paid sick days.
- Employees with 100 or more employees: 14 paid sick days.
- Employers with 11 to 99 employees: 5 paid sick days.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and over $1 million in net income in 2019: 5 paid sick days.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees and $1 million or less in net income in 2019: No paid sick days required but employee is entitled to use state paid family leave and disability benefits.
When less than fourteen (14) days are provided, S8091 allows the employee to claim state paid family leave and disability benefits upon the exhaustion of his or her allotted number of paid sick leave days.
S8091 also provides that it shall be unlawful for an employer to discharge, threaten, penalize or in any other manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee who uses leave in accordance with the law.
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