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Part I: New Jersey returns to work

As New Jersey and the rest of the nation inches closer to reopening, it is time for employers to think through plans to return employees to the workplace.

An issue sure to come up as workers return to New Jersey businesses: can employees decline to return from furlough? Answer: Yes, they can, but they will need a reason protected by law to so without losing unemployment benefits.

What are the reasons protected by law?

  • Sick leave: if a worker hasn't used by their sick leave, they can use the remainder for their own or a family member's COVID-19-related illness; or to comply with a quarantine order issued for the worker or a family member; if the worker's child's school is closed; or (in some cases) fear of coronavirus exposure.
  • Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave: workers can receive up to 80 hours of pay in certain situations, including the following: they're subject to quarantine order or are caring for someone who is subject to one; a doctor has ordered the employee or a person in their care to self-quarantine; they have COVID-19 symptoms and seek a medical diagnosis.
  • New Jersey Family Leave Act: a worker can ask for leave to care for a family member for COVID-19-releated reasons or to care for a child whose school has been closed for COVID-19-releated reasons.
  • Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act: workers can be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (up to 10 weeks with partial pay) to care for a child if school has been closed for COVID-19-releated reasons.

Contact a Morristown employment law firm for guidance through the return-to-work process.

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