I Have COVID-19 So I Called In Sick To My Employer In New Jersey. Must My Employer Pay Me While I’m Out Of Work?
If you call in sick to your employer in New Jersey because you have COVID-19, your employer will likely need to pay you for at least a portion of the time that you are out of work.
Your rights to paid sick leave for COVID-19 arise under two different statutes: the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance Law.
The New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law
Under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, most employees have a right to accrue up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year. You accrue earned sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per benefit year. Alternatively, each year, your employer can provide you with 40 hours of earned sick leave up front.
You can use earned sick leave to take time off from work when, among other independent circumstances, you need diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery for a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or you need preventative medical care.
Thus, you may use earned sick leave under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave law for reasons relating to diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery of COVID-19.
The New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance Law
In addition, New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance benefits can partially replace your wages when you have to stop working because of a physical or mental health condition or other disability unrelated to your work including pregnancy, childbirth, and COVID-19. Most New Jersey workers qualify.
To be eligible, you must (i) have earned at least $11,000 in total or $220 weekly for 20 weeks total in employment in the 18 months before the start of your claim, (ii) stop working due to an illness or injury that is not caused by your job, and (iii) be under the care of a licensed medical provider.
Under the New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance Law, you may receive up to 85% of your average weekly wage, up to $903 per week. Your medical provider certifies how long you need to recover from your medical condition, up to a maximum of 26 weeks.
New Jersey is one of only a very few states that provide compulsory health and accident insurance for workers. Employee’s subject to the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law are automatically included in a state plan of disability benefits which is financed through employer and employee contributions.
The Temporary Disability Benefits law is intended to protect against wage loss caused by an inability to work because of non-occupational illness, accidents or other disabilities of workers and members of their families.
For purposes of the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law, a disability occurs where a covered individual suffers an accident or illness not arising out of and in the course of his employment or not otherwise compensable under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Law (such as, for example, COVID-19).
Benefits for an individual’s own disability are payable from the eighth consecutive day of disability and for each day thereafter that the disability continues, up to a maximum of 26 weeks.
To sum up, If you call in sick to your employer in New Jersey because you have COVID-19, two New Jersey laws likely entitle you to be paid for at least a portion of the time that you are out of work.
If you are an executive or a professional in New Jersey and you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, that you’ve been denied salary, bonuses, commissions, or other wages that are owed to you, or that your employer has failed or refused to reasonably accommodate your disability, call New Jersey Employment Attorney David S. Rich at (201) 740-2828 today.
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