COVID-19 Relief Law - NJ Employment Law Update
The Department of Labor ("DOL") has issued guidance regarding to the return to work and unemployment benefits. The guidance clarified two key departures from the ordinary rule that individuals are only eligible for unemployment if they became unemployed through no fault of their own and are able, willing, and available to work.
- Employer’s efforts to create a safer workplace;
- Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidelines;
- Compliance with guidance from the Department of Labor, Department of Health, and State Police;
- Compliance with guidance from industry groups and associations; &
- Compliance with the Governor’s executive orders.
DOL guidance for employers includes:
- Infectious disease preparedness and response plan;
- Options to work from home;
- Extra hand washing stations and break time to use them;
- Increase sanitation and cleaning;
- Providing personal protective equipment, to limit occupancy, and
- Enforcing social distancing guidelines.
New Jersey law provides that while ordinarily refusing an offer of “suitable work” will result in a loss of benefits, a determination of whether work is “suitable” considers “the degree of risk involved to health, safety and morals.” N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(c); N.J.A.C. 12:17-11.2. A claimant must be able to show the concern is “so compelling so as to prevent the claimant from accepting work.” N.J.A.C. 12:17-11.2.
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