Thomas J. Szymanski
NJFLA—Expanded Reasons for Leave
During a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, due to “an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease,” an employee may use NJFLA leave for the following new reasons:
- Childcare—to care for a child due to a school or daycare closure;
- Mandatory quarantine— to care for a family member subject to mandatory quarantine; and
- Voluntary self-quarantine—to care for a family member whose doctor recommends a voluntary self-quarantine.
Leave for these newly created epidemic-related reasons requires a certification that includes the following:
- Childcare—the date the school or daycare closure commenced and the reason for the closure;
- Mandatory quarantine—the date of the determination and the probable duration; or
- Voluntary self-quarantine—the date of the recommendation, the probable duration, and the medical or other facts within the healthcare provider or public health authority’s knowledge regarding the condition.
Such a certification should be issued by the relevant school or daycare, public health authority, public official, or healthcare provider.
Eligible employees may now be able to take intermittent leave for epidemic-related reasons if they (1) provide prior notice as soon as practicable; and (2) make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Additionally, prior to commencing intermittent leave, employees should provide a regular schedule of the days on which the leave will be taken, when possible.
NJFLA—Highly Compensated Employees
Employers cannot deny epidemic-related NJFLA leave on the basis that employee is highly compensated. Employers, however, can still deny NJFLA to highly compensated employees for non-epidemic-related reasons where (1) the employee earns a salary among the top five percent of employees or the seven highest-paid employees; and (2) the denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the employer’s operations.
The NJTDBL, a state-run program that provides eligible employees with short-term insurance benefits to replace some of an employee’s lost wages during qualifying circumstances, has similarly been expanded. During a state of emergency declared by the Governor, or when indicated to be needed by the Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, due to “an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of a communicable disease,” an employee may qualify as disabled and receive benefits when under:
- Mandatory quarantine—when the employee is subject to mandatory quarantine; or
- Voluntary self-quarantine—when the employee’s doctor recommends a voluntary self-quarantine.
Temporary disability insurance benefits are also available to eligible employees who must care for a family member who is subject to mandatory quarantine or whose doctor recommends a voluntary self-quarantine.
The normal seven-day waiting period for disability benefits does not apply to an epidemic-related disability, and such benefits are payable to eligible employees on the first day of the disability.
Please contact a member of Blank Rome’s Labor & Employment practice group if you have any questions about compliance with New Jersey’s leave laws or any other leave issues.
For the latest updates, please visit Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force page.