New Jersey Employers May Get Guidance on Handling Absent Workers During State of Emergency
The east coast states are still trying to recover from the harsh winter weather we have had in the last several months. One issue facing employers is how to compensate employees who missed work due to the hazardous travel conditions. Can an employer charge an employee with a personal day or unpaid leave in these circumstances? N.J. Senator Peter J. Barnes has proposed a bill to the Senate Labor Committee that seeks to provide some answers.
When the state has been declared to be in a “state of emergency” and the government precludes workers from going to work, it places employers in a difficult position. Senator Barnes’ bill proposes that employers be prohibited from forcing employees to use a sick day, vacation time, personal day or other form of leave time during a state of emergency.
In order to enforce this prohibition, the bill provides that an employer who violates the terms of the bill be fined $5000 for the first infraction and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. The bill specifically excludes public safety employees such as police, firefighters and emergency medical providers.
The bill does not provide different rules for small businesses that rely upon a few select employees to operate, so this concern will need to be addressed as the proposal moves forward. It also does not address businesses that rely on employees being in attendance to provide its services to the public, such as a restaurant or a hotel. Fortunately, many companies can allow employees to work from home computers as an alternative.
If you operate a business in New Jersey and you have questions regarding the proposed bill or how to handle your employment issues, contact Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
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