Assembly Approves Bills to Protect Workers Affected by COVID-19

The New Jersey Assembly passed two bipartisan bills creating protections for certain employees if they must quarantine as a result of COVID-19.

One bill would provide for a local government employee to receive paid leave if they test positive for COVID-19, while the second one prohibits any employer during a state of emergency involving COVID-19 from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who requests or takes time off from work .

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Essex, Morris, Passaic) said people should not fear losing pay because when taking the proper steps of staying home instead of going to work and possibly spreading the virus.

Focus on Health

“The focus needs to be on getting better, not if you have enough sick days saved up,” said DeCroce. “We also cannot forget that many parents are now finding themselves unable to work because schools are closed across the state. When staring in the face of uncertainty, we must come together to ensure those impacted by COVID-19 are not penalized for doing the right thing.” 

The first bill would provide for a local government employee to receive paid leave if they provide documentation, within three work days of their initial absence, to verify they have been diagnosed with COVID-19; directed to self-isolate or quarantine due to diagnosis, suspected exposure, or public health assessment recommendation; or must stay home with a child due to the closure of a preschool program, elementary or secondary school or childcare center due to COVID-19. 

Protecting Workers

Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-Bergen) said the bill protects workers who may need time off for a variety of reasons related to COVID-19. 

“[U]nfortunately, (some) may become sick and need to be quarantined as they recover,” said Tully. “These workers have to be able to take the time they need without worrying about not having enough paid time off to do so.”

“With this legislation, local government employees impacted by COVID-19 will be guaranteed the paid leave they deserve,” stated Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). 

Guaranteeing Employment

The second measure would prohibit any employer during a state of emergency involving COVID-19 from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who requests or takes time off from work because they have or are likely to have COVID-19. 

“These job protections can contribute significantly to limiting the spread of COVID-19,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Morris, Somerset, Union), a sponsor of the bill. “We are giving everyone the tools they need to put their health and the health of others first, without fear of losing their jobs.”

The bill now awaits Senate action.

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