On Friday, March 20, Governor Murphy signed a bill (A3848) into law to prevent employers from firing employees who are out of work because they have or are thought to have COVID-19. The new law applies only to workers who have the virus themselves or are thought to have the virus themselves. It does not cover workers who take off from work to care for ill family members. To be covered under the new law, the affected worker would have to provide medical documentation to the employer to prove they are/were ill with COVID-19 or are thought to have it. Ideally, the note would specify how long the employee is expected to be out of work. If it is unclear how long the employee is expected to be out of work, regular updates to the employer on the employee’s condition are recommended. This new law does not require payment to the employee during a medical leave of absence (but the employee might be covered by earned sick leave or temporary disability insurance); it only requires employers to reinstate employees after a leave of absence due to COVID-19.
Some workers may already be covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires employers to hold an employee’s job protects for up to 12 weeks if the employee has to take a medical leave of absence. To be covered under the FMLA, the employer must employ at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius, and the employee has to have worked at least 1250 hours in the past 12 months. This new law applies to those who don’t already have FMLA protection.