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Benson, Jimenez, Lampitt & Caride Bill to Protect Quarantined Health Care & Public Safety Workers Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation protecting first responders who are quarantined or placed in isolation as a result of a health condition sustained on the job was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Labor Committee.
The bill, sponsored by Daniel R. Benson, Angelica Jimenez, Pamela Lampitt and Marlene Caride, requires an employer to pay a health care worker or first responder regular compensation for any period of time that the health care worker or first responder is placed in isolation or quarantine and unable to work.
It comes after concerns about the treatment of health care workers amid the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
“Healthcare workers and first responders are exposed to many job hazards in their line of work,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Quarantine may not happen often, but can be required in some of the more serious health cases occurring today. Our support must never waver for the men and women who save lives in today’s unpredictable world.”
“Emergency personnel risk their lives to save others when tragedy strikes,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “The dedication and sacrifice first responders’ make should be returned if they fall ill and require isolated medical care as a result of just doing their jobs.”
The bill prohibits an employer from terminating the employment of the health care worker or first responder or taking any adverse action against a health care worker or first responder with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or other privileges of employment because the health care worker or first responder is not actively working and performing all regular duties due to the isolation or quarantine.
The measure also provides that an employer will not require a health care worker or first responder to use any sick, personal, or other leave provided by the employer, whether paid or unpaid for any time that a worker is unable to fulfill professional duties due to isolation and quarantine.
“First responders are our first line of defense here at home,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “They should never have to worry about job security and their pay if it ever becomes necessary for them to enter quarantine. This bill ensures employers are providing professional courtesy to our first responders.”
“We cannot say thank you enough to the first responders for their selfless sacrifices made daily to help others,” added Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “However, we can help to ensure that they will be supported throughout their healing process of a work-related quarantined.”
Penalties under the bill stipulate that an employer who violates the provisions of the legislation is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
The bill would apply to health care workers or first responder placed in isolation or quarantine after the effective date of the bill.