With the goal to create protections for certain employees if they must quarantine as a result of COVID-19, two measures were approved Monday by the Assembly Homeland Security and Preparedness Committee and later passed the full Assembly.
The first bill (A-3847) 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. The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman Christopher Tully (D-Bergen, Passaic), Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Essex, Morris, Passaic) and Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson).
The second measure (A-3848), sponsored by Assemblywomen Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), Nancy Munoz (R-Morris, Somerset, Union) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) 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.
The sponsors released the following statements:
Assemblyman Tully: “As we work to combat this pandemic, we must be cognizant of the fact that workers may need time off for a variety of reasons related to COVID-19. Some may need to take care of children if schools close. Others, unfortunately, may become sick and need to be quarantined as they recover. COVID-19 is a serious illness. These workers have to be able to take the time they need without worrying about not having enough paid time off to do so.”
Assemblywoman DeCroce: “The focus needs to be on getting better, not if you have enough sick days saved up. People should not fear losing pay because they have taken the proper steps of staying home instead of going to work and possibly spreading the virus. 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.”
Assemblyman Chiaravalloti: “Many hardworking New Jersey families are concerned about what they would do if they needed to self-isolate and therefore miss work. With this legislation, local government employees impacted by COVID-19 will be guaranteed the paid leave they deserve.”
Assemblywoman Lopez: “There’s no getting around it. When someone is diagnosed with coronavirus, they will need to be quarantined and off from work for at least 14 days. Unfortunately, some workers will not have enough sick leave or vacation days to cover their full recovery, and may feel at risk of losing their jobs. We would never want an employee to go to work when they’re ill – especially with a communicable disease like the novel coronavirus – and risk the health of themselves and others. At the same time, no one should ever be let go because they become severely ill, particularly during a worldwide pandemic. In these uncertain times, we must act to ensure no worker in New Jersey who is impacted by COVID-19 faces repercussions for missing work during their quarantine and/or recovery.”
Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz: “These job protections can contribute significantly to limiting the spread of COVID-19. We are giving everyone the tools they need to put their health and the health of others first, without fear of losing their jobs.”
Assemblywoman Downey: “No employee should have to worry about whether or not they will lose their job because they need time off to recover from novel coronavirus. At a time of so much unease, we should be able to assure employment protections for all.”