Amendments to New Jersey’s Family Leave Act and New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law

Amendments to New Jersey’s Family Leave Act and New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law
Riker Danzig Labor & Employment Client ALERT March 27, 2020

New Jersey employment laws continue to rapidly evolve in response to the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic.  On March 25th, Governor Murphy signed S2304, augmenting employee rights under both The New Jersey Family Leave Act and New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law.

Amendments to New Jersey’s Family Leave Act and New Jersey’s Temporary Disability Benefits Law

S2304 expands the definition of a “serious health condition” as that term is used in the Family Leave Act (“FLA”) and the Temporary Disability Benefits Law (“TDBL”) to include within the definition, during a declared state of emergency “or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority,” the following:  “an illness caused by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease, which requires in-home care or treatment of a family member of the employee” because:

S2304 § 2. 

The expanded definition of “serious health condition” in the TDBL also covers the employee’s own “in-home care or treatment” because of a qualifying determination that the employee’s “presence in the community . . . may jeopardize the health of others” and a covered recommended or ordered isolation or quarantine of the employee.  S2304 § 4. 

Moreover, those same circumstances now constitute a “sickness” for purpose of the TDBL, allowing for employees to obtain leave benefits for their own “sickness” or when taking “leave to care for family members suffering from . . . sickness.”  S2304 § 5.  S2304 also amends the TDBL to eliminate the one-week waiting period for an employee to obtain disability benefits when taking leave for a “sickness” and such leave commences on or after S2304’s effective date.  S2304 §§ 6, 7.

Amendments to New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Act

S2304 also amends New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Act to allow an employee to use his or her accrued sick leave if the employee is unable to work because:

S2304 § 1.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

New Jersey employers must comply with New Jersey’s new laws and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which also provides for paid leave and expanded leave for qualifying employees.  From April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, employees of covered employers are entitled to two weeks’ paid sick leave if they, inter alia, are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation (or if they are caring for a quarantined or isolated individual), have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis, or are caring for a child due to a COVID-19 related closure of the child’s school or care provider.  Additionally, under the FFCRA, employees who must take leave to care for their children due to the closure of a school or care provider because of COVID-19 are entitled to an additional ten weeks of expanded family and medical leave. 

Please note that application of S2304 or of the FFCRA requires a fact-sensitive analysis.  This Alert is not intended to be legal advice for any particular situation, and it should not be construed as such. 

Riker Danzig is here to help if you need assistance of any kind.  The Firm is operating and fully functional.  Our attorneys continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the business community.  Please do not hesitate to contact Scott Ohnegian, Adam McInerney, or any member of Riker Danzig’s Labor & Employment Group regarding any specific legal issue affecting your business.

Please visit Riker Danzig’s COVID-19 Resource Center to stay up to date on all related legal issues.