Workers’ Rights During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Life has been upended for thousands of workers in New Jersey due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Businesses are scaling back their hours and some have even closed their doors. Many employees have been told not to report to work. Some have been instructed to apply for unemployment.
The situation continues to evolve, and new bills have been introduced at the state and federal levels to help affected workers make ends meet.
New Jersey Actions
The New Jersey State Assembly has fast-tracked several bills to help New Jersey residents, including the following:
- Assembly Bill 3846: This bill creates a $20 million unemployment insurance program to compensate workers for wages lost while in quarantine.
- Assembly Bill 3848: This prevents employers from firing employees who take off from work to recover from the Coronavirus.
- Assembly Bill 3859: This bill would allow the governor to order a freeze on any evictions or foreclosures during a state of emergency.
Also, additional measures that are proposed would prohibit rent increases and changes to mortgages during this state of emergency. Other bills introduced in the New Jersey Assembly aim to take pressure off business owners. However, all these measures still require approval. The status of legal rights of New Jersey workers during the coronavirus outbreak is still evolving.
On the federal level, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which is intended to provide paid sick leave to workers who do not have it
Under the Act, workers may take up to three months of paid leave to care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed due to the coronavirus.
The act also extends paid sick leave to workers who have just a few days of paid leave. Some part-time workers will be covered. Unfortunately, there are loopholes in the Act and not all workers will be covered. Also, the payments may be less than the employees’ currently salary, and there are limits to how long the payments will last.
Good News for New Jersey Workers
Fortunately, New Jersey already has comprehensive sick leave and family leave laws covering full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. Workers can use earned sick leave if their child’s school or day care is closed due to an epidemic. Earned sick leave may also be used by an employee who needs to self-quarantine or care for a sick family member.
However, as with other employment laws, there are loopholes and exceptions. Seeking the advice of an experienced employment lawyer can help clarify the benefits to which you may be entitled.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Are Available to Answer Your Legal Questions About the Coronavirus Outbreak
If you have concerns about your rights to paid sick leave or unemployment insurance during this period of uncertainty, do not hesitate to reach out to the South Jersey employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass. We are committed to serving the legal needs of our community during this time, and we can meet with you on the phone or through a videoconference to answer your questions. Contact us online or call us at 856-751-5505 for a free consultation. Located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.