New Jersey Expands Leave Laws in the Wake of COVID-19
New Jersey Family Leave Act
On April 14, Governor Murphy of New Jersey signed into law S.2374, which modifies certain state leave laws to accommodate those employees grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) has been altered so that it also allows the use of its leave for the following:
- A qualifying situation in the event of a state of emergency declared by the Governor or other public health authority because of an epidemic of a communicable disease, known or expected exposure to a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of the communicable disease. A qualifying situation must involve one of the following:
o Requirement of in-home care or treatment of a child whose school/daycare has been closed down due to COVID-19;
o A public health authority’s issuance of a mandatory quarantine to an employee’s family member for community protection;
o A health care provider or a public health authority’s recommendation that a family member (in need of care by the employee) self-quarantine due to actual or suspected exposure to COVID-19
“Family member” as described in the law refers to a child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, or any other individual related by blood or with a close, familial bond.
NJFLA taken in this way may be taken intermittently if the employee provides notice as soon as practicable and the employee makes an effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer operations.
An employer may require that family leave taken in this way be supported by reasonable documentation. Such documentation can include certification issued by a school, place of child care, public health authority, public official, or a health care provider, provided that the documentation includes:
- The date of school/child care closure and the reason for such closure;
- The date of the determination of the mandatory quarantine and the probable duration;
- The date of the recommendation for self-quarantine, the probable duration, and any other pertinent medical facts
The law also removes the exceptions to NJFLA (salaried employee who is among the highest 5%, denial being necessary to prevent grievous economic injury to employer) if the leave is used in conjunction with a state of emergency declared by the governor to prevent the spread of the disease.
Family Leave Insurance (FLI)
The statute also makes some substantial alterations to New Jersey FLI. The law amends the definition of “disability” under the statute to include an epidemic of a communicable disease which causes a mandatory or recommended quarantine. The law also adds an acceptable use for New Jersey FLI:
- The mandated (from a public health agency or provider) or recommended (from a healthcare provider) quarantine of a family member as a result of a state of emergency declared by the Governor as a response to the spread of a communicable disease.
The law also adds an acceptable use for New Jersey TDI:
- The mandated (from a public health agency or provider) or recommended (from a healthcare provider) quarantine of the employee as a result state of emergency declared by the Governor as a response to the spread of a communicable disease.
Should an employee require the use of TDI for this reason, TDI benefits will be payable on the first day of compensable disability.
Employers should review their existing leave policies (especially those surrounding NJFLA, FLI, and TDI) and ensure that they are in compliance with this new mandate. It is important to note that the leave laws are otherwise the same as they were before this amendment: the law does not grant extra leave time, it just expands the use of leave.
You can read the entire law HERE.