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Employee Benefits for  Coronavirus
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Employee Benefits for Coronavirus

What Employees Need to Know

NJ Governor Patrick Murphy signed legislation enacting sweeping measures to provide workers’ compensation benefits to essential workers who contract coronavirus [COVID-19] and provide dependency benefits to their survivors.

Employee Benefits for COVID-19
Contracting an infectious disease is a compensable event in New Jersey. The occupational disease statute has, over the decades, evolved to provide workers' compensation benefits to employees who are exposed to infectious diseases and their dependents, including viruses, arising out of and in the course of their employment.

Essential Workers
The legislation eases the burden of proof by establishing a rebuttable presumption that coronavirus disease contracted by healthcare workers, public safety workers, and other essential employees is work-related and compensable under the NJ Workers’ Compensation Act.

Self-Quarantine Benefits
A person exposed to coronavirus during work has now been told to self-quarantine (healthcare workers, wait staff, retail teachers, etc.)

  • You may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation: If a person is directed to self-quarantine by their employer or a public health official following known exposure to the virus during their work, that person could be eligible for workers’ compensation.
  • You may be able to use accrued Earned Sick Leave: The Earned Sick Leave law states, in part: “Time during which the employee is not able to work…because of the issuance by a 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.”
  • You may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation: If a person is directed to self-quarantine by their employer or a public health official following known exposure to the virus during their work, that person could be eligible for workers’ compensation.
  • You may be able to use accrued Earned Sick Leave: The Earned Sick Leave law states, in part: “Time during which the employee is not able to work…because of the issuance by a 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.”

Additional Benefits
New Jersey has among the most comprehensive Earned Sick Leave, Temporary Disability, and Insurance laws in the country, covering all employees – full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal.

New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Law even covers public health emergencies – employees can use Earned Sick leave if their workplace or child’s school or daycare is closed due to an epidemic or if a public health authority determines the need for quarantine.

Earned Sick Leave can be used for self-care or for a person to care for a family member, which includes a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, parent or 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.

That said, variables affect eligibility and the applicable benefit or protection. The Labor Department examines cases individually and makes eligibility determinations by the law.

An employee should consult an attorney-at-law in a timely fashion for legal advice on the benefits that may be available.
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of  Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

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