Hello everyone, I am Pauline Young. I am one of the partners here at McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC. First of all, I should say forgive me for my informal attire today, with the coronavirus, we are working with what we have here.
New Jersey Coronavirus Employment Issues
There have been a lot of concerns about employment issues, business issues, jobs, keeping your jobs and what to do if you lose your job or can’t keep working at your job. So again, it a very fluid situation as Governor Murphy has been intimating all week. It’s something that there will be a lot of trial and error with and certainly we are going to be here with you to try to get through it as best we all can.
Paid Sick and Family Leave
Let’s start with basically with benefits as how to get through this and keep everyone going. So if you have the virus, if you have symptoms of the virus, if you have to take care of a child whose school has closed because of the virus which I think is every school at this point, if your job is ordered to closed by a public official because of the virus, if you can’t go to work because of a health care professional has told you that you are at great risk or greater risk because of a pre-existing condition and you can’t go to work. If you have been directed to quarantine or if you have to care for a relative who has the coronavirus, in all of those situations you have the right to receive earned sick leave.
Earned sick leave is something specific to New Jersey. It got passed and went into effect in October 2018 and applies to employers of all sizes, full-time, part-time, temporary employees, everybody. Employees get up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year so they can care for themselves or sick loved ones. So all those categories would be covered for 40 hours under that law.
Temporary Disability & Workers Compensation
If you don’t qualify for earned sick leave under one of those categories or if you are laid off or if you run out of the sick leave and you are sick, then you can apply for temporary disability insurance. That claim should be filed at www.myleavebenefits.nj.gov. In addition, some workers may also be eligible for family and medical leave (“FMLA”). I am going to get into that later because that has extra complications.
You may also be eligible for workers compensation. If you contracted the virus at work or through work-related contact, it’s possible that you could get workers compensation benefits. I would highly recommend getting an attorney for that because government assistance right now is very limited. Workers Compensation Courts are closed. The Division of Worker’s Compensation is on a skeleton crew system right now, their phones are off, but they are still accepting filing through online courts. Certainly, get an attorney if you think workers compensation is an avenue that you want to go through.
New Jersey Unemployment Benefits
If you are not sick, but you are not in work, you could apply for unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply through www.myunemployent.nj.gov. That should be done online as well. A lot of the live centers are closed, if not all of them at this point, so certainly try to do that online.
Partial New Jersey Unemployment Benefits
Something that could also come into effect here a lot more than in most situations is partial unemployment insurance. If you are still employed but you have gotten your hours reduced because of the coronavirus, you might be eligible for partial unemployment.
New Jersey Family Leave Insurance
If you are caring for a family member who has the virus or symptoms of the virus and again you have used your earned sick leave, you may qualify for New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance. That is also www.myleavebenefits.nj.gov. In that case you need the family member’s health care provider to provide a certification for you, but you can get leave benefits through that avenue.
Federal Family and Medical Leave (“FMLA”)
With the family medical leave, the Federal Government had recently put into effect a new expansion of the Federal Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) Benefits Program. That program is still being interpreted in the courts, so we are still waiting for a lot of clarifications and specific regulations by the Department of Labor at the federal level, but that should apply to all employers who have less than 500 employees. They will be required to provide paid and extended paid medical leave to employees affected by the coronavirus as well. It might also apply to employers with 50 or less employees, but those employers might be able to get a hardship exemption and I think in many cases given the situation they might qualify for that. So that is still a little bit unknown and fluid at this point.
We are keeping track of the changes in the law, the updates, the clarifications we are receiving, and we can provide more information and details for anyone that calls in and needs help with that.
No Matter What, We Will Be Open and Here For You
While it is possible that our physical offices here might close, we will certainly remain available for everyone. We will be working full-time remotely, so even if we cannot answer the phone at the office, it will be answered or we will get back to everyone as they call in. Everyone here is going to be able to work remotely and we will be in touch with everyone, and help everyone as quickly and as efficiently as humanly possible.
We’re Open: Here’s How to Contact Us
First, you call us. Our number is 973-890-0004.
Second, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, fill out the contact form on this page.
We are going to stay open and with you guys throughout this situation and help you with issues that are arising throughout this pandemic. We will remain open and here to help you, as we always have, and always will be.