Governor Murphy signed a package of bills into law on March 20, 2020, which aim to help alleviate COVID-19’s impact on the state’s businesses and employees. Importantly, two of the bills, A.B. 3845 and A.B. 3848, offer unique tools to help navigate the turbulent times created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are key points and take-aways from each of these bills.
A.B. 3848 provides: “[a]n employer shall not … terminate or otherwise penalize an employee if the employee requests or takes time off from work based on the written or electronically transmitted recommendation of a medical professional licensed in New Jersey that the employee take that time off for a specified period of time because the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease[.]” Additionally, employees, upon completing the medical diagnosis and treatment, may return to work fully reinstated. Thus, an employer shall not refuse to reinstate the employee, demote the employee, punish the employee or discriminate against the employee, as such would be deemed a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. If, however, the employer violates the law, the employee may seek redress by filing a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development or file a complaint in a court of competent jurisdiction. Additionally, the employer may be fined $2,500 for each violation.
A.B. 3845 “authoriz[es] the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to make grants during periods of emergency declared by the Governor and for the duration of economic disruptions due to the emergency, and amending various parts of the statutory law.” For example, the law aims to extend credit or make loans to any person “for the planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, improving, equipping and furnishing of a project or school facilities project, which credits or loans may be secured by loan and security agreements, mortgages, leases and any other instruments, upon such terms and conditions as the authority shall deem reasonable[.]” (emphasis added). Thus, the bill provides the opportunity for the state potentially to offer financial assistance to businesses. However, additional clarification is needed as to how such funds can be acquired or will be allocated. For a further discussion of some of the practical implications of this bill, please see our post “New Jersey Confronting COVID-19: A Look Ahead.”
There are additional legislative actions being considered that will likewise have an impact on both employees and employers in the wake of COVID-19. We will keep you updated as details are finalized and available.