TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday, March 20 signed legislation (A3848), which prohibits an employer from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease requiring them to miss time at work during the public health and State of Emergnecy outlined in his Executive Order No. 103.
Under the law, an employee who requests or takes time off from work, based on the recommendation of a medical professional, may not be terminated or refused reinstatement if the employee is likely to infect others in the workplace.
“Our message in New Jersey has been loud and clear: if you’re sick, stay home,” the governor said in a statement. “No one should fear retribution from their employer for an absence deemed necessary by a medical professional, particularly for an illness as communicable as COVID-19. Every New Jerseyan has a role to play in our mitigation efforts and staying away from others when you’re sick is perhaps the most important thing you can do right now.”
“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,” Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez said. “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.”
The job protections will limit the spread of the disease, state officials said.
“At a moment of tremendous fear and anxiety, nobody should have to choose between their job and their health,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said. “We are calling for strict observance of social distancing and asking people to stay home if they have any signs of illness, but we can’t ask that of them unless we also ensure they will have a job to go back to after this crisis passes. I’m heartened to see the Governor take such immediate action on such a crucial aspect of these public health measures necessary to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.”