NJ Enacts Coronavirus Relief and Worker Protection PackageMarch 21, 2020 – Alerts
On March 20, 2020, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law several pieces of legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These laws will provide economic relief, employee protections and address certain government functions. While this flurry of legislation is robust, it is likely just the beginning as the state attempts to tackle this unprecedented crisis.
This law provides employment protection for an employee who requests or takes time off from work because the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease based on a written or electronic submission from a doctor. The employee must be reinstated to his/her position with the same seniority, status, employment benefits, pay or other terms and conditions of employment. If this law is violated, the employer will have to reinstate the employee under the same terms, and may be subject to a fine of $2,500. Notably, the Earned Sick Leave law already provides employment protection for an individual who needs leave for a qualifying reason, which would include illness. This law provides additional protection specifically for an infectious disease.
This law permits the Economic Development Authority to issue grants when a State of Emergency is declared. The grants can be for the planning, designing, acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, improving, equipping, and furnishing of a project, including, but not limited to, grants for working capital and meeting payroll requirements, upon such terms and conditions as the authority deems reasonable, during such period of time. It also extends the uses of the economic growth account in the Economic Recovery Fund for those things by small and medium-size businesses and not-for-profit corporations of certain projects, including, but not limited to, grants for working capital and meeting payroll requirements. Finally, the law gives the chief executive officer of the authority the discretion to grant a business documentation submission extension for the duration of the emergency and the board of the authority.
This law allows meetings of shareholders to be held remotely through electronic means, provided that the board adopts procedures governing such meetings. Reasonable measures must be implemented to verify that each person participating remotely is a shareholder or a proxy of a shareholder, that each shareholder be given an opportunity to participate and vote on matters submitted to the shareholders, and record and maintain a record of any shareholder votes or other actions taken by remote communication at the meeting.
Other laws included in the package:
- A-3865 / S-2291 - Limits the ability to return groceries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It provides an exception for an item with manufacturing defect, but states that the item cannot be offered for resale;
- A-3843 / S-2283 - During the State of Emergency, it requires health insurance carriers, as well as the State and School Employees’ Health Benefits Programs and the State Medicaid program, to provide coverage for expenses incurred in the testing for coronavirus and delivery of healthcare services through telehealth or telemedicine;
- A-3849 / S-2302 – Relaxes the deadline for a custodian of records to respond to an Open Public Records Act Request during a State of Emergency;
- A-3850 / S-2294 – Allows public bodies to conduct meetings through electronic remote communication during a State of Emergency;
- A-3095 / S-1982 – Provides an additional week for county clerks to prepare mail-in ballots for the primary election;
- A-3851 / S-2295 – Extends deadlines for county and municipal budgets during a State of Emergency;
- A-3860 / S-2289 A-3855 / S-2287 – Allows any health care practitioner to provide and bill for services using telemedicine and telehealth during a State of Emergency, regardless of whether rules and regulations concerning the practice of telemedicine and telehealth have been adopted. It also sets requirements for a practitioner who is not licensed or certified to practice in New Jersey to allow them to provide health care services under the bill using telemedicine and telehealth;
- A-3840 / S-2281 – Requires school districts to implement a program during the period of the school closure due to coronavirus to provide school meals to all district students who are eligible for the free and reduced price school lunch and school breakfast programs;
- A-3854 / S-2286 – States that during the coronavirus emergency, all licensed health care facilities and clinical laboratories will be authorized to collect specimens for the purposes of testing for the virus;
- A-3862 / S-2298 – Allows for professional and occupational licensing process for out-of-state individuals to be expedited during a State of Emergency;
- A-3855 / S-2287 – Requires the State 2-1-1 system and all executive branch departments to prominently display information concerning food access programs and resources through their main websites and social media during any declared public health emergency;
- AJR-158 / SJR-77 – Joint Resolution urging the FCC to take temporary measures to secure broadband access for those affected by the coronavirus public health emergency.
We will continue to provide updates on new legislation as it comes. For more information about this alert, please contact Jonathan D. Ash at 609.895.7079 [email protected], or any member of the firm’s national Labor & Employment Department.