The governor on Wednesday approved a measure expanding the state’s family leave, temporary disability insurance programs, and paid sick leave to cover workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 2304 expands the definition of “serious health condition” during a public health emergency for someone who has to take time off work because they were diagnosed with, or exposed to, someone with COVID-19 – or to care for a family member in that same boat – so that those workers can use TDI and FLI paid benefits.
Paid sick leave is also now available to a worker who has to undergo isolation or quarantine at the recommendation, or order, of a health care provider.
“No one should have to decide between taking care of themselves or a sick family member and going to work during this pandemic,” Murphy said Wednesday night in a statement.
The TDI and FLI programs are financed by payroll taxes, and employers do not contribute to the program, nor does the state, according to the state labor department.
No one should have to decide between taking care of themselves or a sick family member
and going to work during this pandemic.
– Gov. Phil Murphy
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, claimants are paid two-thirds of their average weekly income, capped at $667 per week. On July 1, that increases to 85 percent of their weekly salary, capped at $881 a week.
The measure was unanimously approved at the state Assembly Wednesday before 3 p.m – at its first-ever virtual voting session – with Murphy signing the bill shortly after 8 p.m.
The session was done remotely so that elected officials could avoid the kind of in-person contact that could expose them to COVID-19. Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese, D-36th, announced on March 21 that he tested positive for COVID-19, but was able to vote in favor of the bill because of the remote voting session.
Wednesday’s bill was part of the second “wave” of COVID-19-relief bills being sent to Murphy’s desk. The first wave of bills was signed earlier this week.
One measure, Assembly Bill 3902, would let the state government grant municipalities with the ability to enact grace periods to residents for their property taxes. Assembly Bill 3901 meanwhile, allows state officials to reactivate professional certificates and licenses on an “expedited basis,” provided they were in “good standing” at the time of their retirement, and if their job is “deemed necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare” of the state.
The governor has yet to take any action on Assembly Bill 3846, which would create a $20 million unemployment insurance program that would compensate workers for wages lost while in quarantine as a result of the outbreak, and for businesses that had to cover pay for any such worker.
New Jersey’s $2.4 billion unemployment insurance fund has been put under enormous strain in recent weeks, as mass business closures cause the state’s joblessness rate to soar. Murphy said that the federal government would need to step in and provide assistance.
Meanwhile, several key measures that Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, introduced on March 14, but have yet to move forward, would enact a payroll tax holiday, a two-month holiday on the sales tax, and deferrals on property tax payments.