Regular readers of our Morristown employment law blog know that we addressed some of the issues facing New Jersey employers as businesses begin to reopen and workers begin to return.
One issue of major concern for many business owners: how will the New Jersey Division of Unemployment Insurance consider claims by workers who refuse reinstatement?
The department’s position is that employees must accept offers of suitable work. If they refuse, they might well stop receiving unemployment benefits for the week in which they decline the offer – and the next three weeks as well.
What’s “suitable”? An offer of work similar to what the employee was previously performing.
It should be noted, however, that unemployment law says a worker can reject a job offer for good cause, which can include considerations of health and safety.
If a worker refuses reinstatement after a furlough, the employer must notify the Division of Unemployment Insurance within 48 hours. Notification includes a completed Form BC-6, including the date of the employee’s refusal to return.
It’s also important for employers to know that they cannot select which employees for return to work based on what you believe is that worker’s risk of contracting the coronavirus and transmitting it to other employees. Instead, use criteria for return that apply equally to all employees.
It is not a good idea to recall only younger workers, for instance, as doing so might create legal exposure to litigation involving age discrimination and similar matters.
Those employers who are ready to reopen or anticipate being ready in the near future can contact an employment law attorney experienced in analyzing and formulating protective policies and procedures.