Yesterday, we reported that New Jersey’s legislature has once again approved a series of bills that seek to provide relief to New Jersey residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these bills are two that significantly impact employers. We are updating our report to advise you that Governor Murphy has signed both of the employment-related bills into law.
COVID-19 Changes to Family Leave
The Governor signed into law, Senate Bill 2374, which expands the “Family Leave Act” (“FLA”) to include leave from employment so that an employee may provide care to a family member made necessary by an epidemic of a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to a communicable disease, or efforts to prevent the spread of a communicable disease, such as COVID-19. The amendments to the FLA will allow employees forced to care for family members during the COVID-19 outbreak to take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 24-month period without losing their jobs. This law takes effect immediately and is retroactive to March 25, 2020.
COVID-19 Changes to Employment Layoffs
Governor Murphy also signed into law, Senate Bill 2353 which revises the “Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act” (New Jersey’s mini-WARN Act) to provide that the definition of mass layoff does not include a mass layoff that is necessary because of a fire, flood, natural disaster, national emergency, act of war, civil disorder, or industrial sabotage, decertification from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs as provided under Titles XVIIIand XIX of the federal “Social Security Act,” Pub.L. 74-271 (45 U.S.C. s.1395 et seq.) or license revocation pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et al.). This definition brings New Jersey’s WARN Act more in line with the federal WARN Act which already provides an exception for job losses caused by natural disasters. It also gives a reprieve to employers who would otherwise be covered by the Act, from paying severance pay to employees if the mass layoff was caused by an event described in the amended language. In addition, the bill makes the change to the definition of mass layoff retroactive to March 9, 2020.
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