As a New Jersey employer, it is important you stay updated on changes in unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic. Because the programs and benefits available to employees may change at any time, be sure you regularly check for updates from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The following information was current on September 2, 2021. It will be updated on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covidFAQ.shtml website as new information becomes available.
Q: If an employee who has been receiving unemployment benefits is recalled to work or receives another offer of suitable work, but is concerned about their health and safety if they return, can they still receive unemployment benefits?
A: If the work poses a high degree of risk to the employee’s health and safety, they can refuse to accept the “unsuitable work” and continue to collect benefits. These determinations highly depend on specific facts and are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Can an employee use sick leave to get and recover from a vaccination?
A: Employees can use their NJ Earned Sick Leave to get their COVID-19 vaccination. This includes travel to and from their appointment and recovery from side effects. Under state law, you must provide up to 40 hours of paid earned sick leave per year for most full- and part-time employees.
Q: If an employee is the primary caregiver for their child or family member who is sick with COVID-19, can they refuse to return to work and get unemployment assistance?
A: Refusal of an offer of suitable work would disqualify the employee from regular UI benefits.
If your company is covered under the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the employee is eligible, they typically are entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to care for a loved one in a 2-year period. This includes leave to care for a seriously ill loved one, or for the employee’s child if their school or place of care is closed by order of a public official due to COVID-19 or another public health emergency during a state of emergency. Companies with 30 or more employees worldwide are covered under this law.
To be eligible for the job-protected leave, the employee must have been employed by your company for at least one year and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the past 12 months. If the employee was on furlough or laid off due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, any time, up to 90 calendar days, during the furlough or time of unemployment can be counted as time in which they were employed.
Q: If an employee contracts COVID-19 at work, are they eligible for workers’ compensation?
A: Yes, the employee may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for suffering job-related illness. Talk with a workers’ compensation attorney for guidance on your situation.
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