To ensure emergency medical responders – paid or volunteer members of first aid, rescue and ambulance squads – can serve during a state of emergency without risking their primary employment, the full Assembly passed a bill 79-0-0 on Monday that would provide certain protections.
Under the bill (A-3924), employers would be prohibited from terminating, dismissing, or suspending an employee not reporting to work because they are actively engaged in paid or volunteer emergency medical services related to a state of emergency such as New Jersey is currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill sponsor, Assemblyman James Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) issued the following statement:
“Emergency responders are an integral part of New Jersey’s front-line response to coronavirus. By safeguarding the employment of those willing and able to step forward and serve, we ensure we are deploying all trained and qualified personnel without limitation. Bringing all our resources to bear in this way helps us protect both lives and livelihoods.”
Employment protections provided under the bill are contingent upon notice being given to an employer one hour before the start of a scheduled shift. Upon return from an incident, the employer would also need to receive a copy of the incident report and a certification of necessity from the incident commander or officer in charge.
The bill would also prohibit a law enforcement agency or fire department to limit the ability of a first responder to serve as an emergency medical responder during state emergencies.