On April 14, 2020, New Jersey’s Family Leave Act (FLA) was amended to allow covered employees (those who have worked for the employer for 12 months and at least worked 1000 hours during that time period) who are caring for family members during the COVID-19 outbreak to receive up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 24-month period.
The FLA’s definition of “family leave” was amended to include instances when a state of emergency is declared regarding an epidemic or a communicable disease that: 1) requires in-home care or treatment of a child due to closure of the child’s school or place of care by a public official, 2) prompts a public health authority to require certain measures as a result of a communicable disease because the presence of a family member in need of care in the community would jeopardize the health of others, or 3) results in a health care provider or public health authority recommendation that a family member in need of care by the employee voluntarily undergo self-quarantine.
A covered employer (employers with 30 or more employees within or outside of New Jersey) may require that any such family leave request be supported by a health care provider certification, or a certification by a school, place of child care, public official, or public health authority.
If leave is requested due to an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent spread of the communicable disease, the leave may be taken intermittently if the employee follows certain procedures outlined in the FLA.
While a covered employer can generally refuse leave if necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the employer's operations, this standard does not apply when there is a state of emergency and the leave is for an epidemic of a communicable disease, known or suspected exposure to the communicable disease, or efforts to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.
Of particular note, the amendments are effective immediately and shall apply retroactively to March 25, 2020. Therefore, employers are well-advised to re-evaluate the status of any employee who requested or is on leave to care for a family member during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the employer is properly addressing any such leave request given the amendment to the FLA. Also, employers should review the leave record for any employee requesting such leave to determine if that employee took any FLA leave in the prior 24-month period, as such time would be counted toward the total 12 weeks of leave available.
We encourage you to contact Connell Foley’s Labor and Employment Group if you need assistance interpreting the change to the FLA and to see whether your company is required to provide leave to any employee.
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Michael Shadiack is the Chair of Connell Foley’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. Representing a broad spectrum of employers and management personnel in the private and public sectors, he provides litigation defense and ...
Lauren Iannaccone’s broad range of experience in complex commercial transactions allows her to respond to significant emergent matters and assist clients efficiently and effectively. Lauren’s litigation experience ...