New Jersey Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Paterson) is sponsoring legislation that aims to curb acts of retribution against employees during states of emergency.

A snow covered road in Howell (Chris Swendeman, Townsquare Media NJ)

Under the measure, an employer would be prohibited from taking any adverse action against a worker, such as forcing them to take personal or sick days, if they're unable to get to work when a state of emergency is declared during a hurricane, blizzard, or some other dangerous situation. It would also set forth restrictions on limiting compensation or other employment privileges.

"With all of the extreme weather we've had in recent years, you hear constituents with concerns about retribution if they don't come to work when a state of emergency is declared by the governor," Wimberly said. "The idea is to not force employees to rush out and endanger themselves, and other people, during any type of state of emergency."

Wimberly is still working on common sense protections in the measure to make sure employees, especially those working for small businesses, don't abuse it.

"We would have to sit down and say there would be a clear understanding, that you're not going to take advantage of it if it doesn't apply to you," he said. "I'm looking forward to sit down and iron out a lot of wrinkles, to make it work for the employees and the employers."

The assemblyman said employees shouldn't have to think, in the middle of a blizzard, "I have three sick days left and I'm going to get out of here in a Nissan Sentra without four-wheel drive because I don't want to use a sick day."

The spirit of the legislation is safety," Wimberly said. "Companies are forcing employees to come in when there is a danger, be it floods, be it ice storms, be it snowstorms. You want to protect them, and not put them in a position that they're more concerned with losing days for not coming to work when there's a state of emergency declared."

There are equal issues at hand for employers as well, Wimberly said.

"I want to make sure in this legislation that small employers are not hurt by this, and people take advantage of it when they have the opportunity to go to work, if the state of emergency does not impact their exact region or area," he said.

The bill would require employees to make every effort possible to notify their employers of their impending absence. Wimberly understands some workers, like emergency personnel themselves, may be necessary exceptions to the legislation.