State Labor Department officials have released specific guidelines to help employers and employees alike understand the different scenarios for utilizing state resources amid the COVID-19 virus.

"Bipartisan federal legislation expected to be signed this week will provide small and mid-sized businesses with 100 percent compensation for providing two weeks of sick leave to employees, along with tax credits for providing up to three months of Paid Family Leave," according to a recent update on the state Department of Labor website.

"We urge you to continue to pay your workers whether or not they are able to work. All but the largest employers will be fully reimbursed under the legislation," the same update said, while also reiterating that employees who continue to be paid are not eligible for unemployment insurance or other benefits.

New Jersey’s earned sick leave law does cover public health emergencies – and can be used by employees if their workplaces or children's school or daycare are closed due to an epidemic, or if a public health authority determines the need for a quarantine.

It can be used for self-care, to care for a family member or anyone whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of family, though the Labor Department examines cases on an individual basis before making eligibility determinations.

In addition to earned sick leave, temporary disability and family leave insurance laws in NJ cover all employees – full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal.

The scenarios below are examples of how state benefits and protections might apply, as laid out March 16:

"A person who has COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19," would potentially qualify for earned sick leave, temporary disability/family leave insurance, and possibly worker's compensation on a case by case basis.

"Worker was exposed and quarantined. Business remains open," also would potentially qualify for earned sick leave, temporary disability/family leave insurance, and possibly worker's compensation on a case by case basis.

"Worker was unable to work because of school or daycare closed for a public health reason," could be eligible for earned sick leave.

"A person who is out of work because employer was ordered closed," would potentially qualify for earned sick leave and unemployment insurance.

"A person who is out of work because employer voluntarily closed," would be eligible for unemployment insurance.

"Worker has less hours available due to business slow down or lack of demand," also would be eligible for unemployment insurance.

"Employer stays open in defiance of public health urging to close, and worker refuses to work,"could be eligible for earned sick leave and possibly unemployment insurance, on a case by case basis.

"Worker is afraid of gathering in a group and refuses to go to work (self-distancing),"could be eligible for earned sick leave and possibly temporary disability/family leave insurance, on a case by case basis.

"Worker is immune-compromised and advised by healthcare provider to self-quarantine," would be eligible for earned sick leave and temporary disability/family leave insurance.

"Worker is caring for a sick family member," also would be eligible for earned sick leave and temporary disability/family leave insurance.

"Health care worker exposed at work and self-quarantined," would be eligible for earned sick leave, temporary disability/family leave insurance and worker's compensation.

(NJ Department of Labor website)

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