The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused many workplaces to re-evaluate their overall safety and prioritize the health of their employees. The rapid spread of the virus has led to increased workplace safety rules and the implementation of new legal obligations for employers. Due to the changing laws, many businesses are constantly questioning their legal risk when it comes to their obligation to their employees.
Employers are expected to follow pre-existing state and federal worker protection and labor laws, as well as new laws pertaining to COVID-19. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects employees from being discriminated against or harassed on behalf of a COVID-19-related situation. If an employee has tested positive and needs to miss work, discrimination and harassment based on the matter is unlawful and unethical. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are also required to protect workers from hazards that may cause illness or injury. This includes:
- Providing personal protective equipment
- Requiring social distancing between coworkers
- Providing all employees with face coverings and gloves
- Sending workers home who feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms
- Notifying employees of known exposure to COVID-19
- Cleaning and disinfecting workplaces
Employers are expected to continue to follow all guidelines issued buy the New Jersey Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to ensure the safety of their workplaces.
An employee is entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected leaving due to COVID-19. The first two weeks are unpaid and the remaining 10 weeks are paid leave if stated in their employment contract or workplace policy. If it is not stated in a contract, the employee may be entitled to short-term disability insurance. It is important for employers to evaluate the pros and cons of not paying an employee who is out sick for reasons beyond legal requirements. If employers choose not to pay an employee while they are out of work, they may choose to come back early and infect other staff members.
There are many obligations that employers have when keeping their employees safe at work. Employers should continuously stay informed on new laws regarding paid leave and workplace requirement. Laws are always changing and being updated, and it is important to stay up to date on the proper way to handle COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should also communicate with their workers about new protocols and promote proper hygiene to reduce the spread of infection. Employees will appreciate the proactivity in keeping them safe and will be confident going to work each day.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Advocate on Behalf of Employees with COVID-19 Concerns
Employers have legal obligations to their employees when it comes to handling COVID-19. If you feel that your workplace is not treating you accurately or fails to adhere to COVID-19 employment guidelines, contact the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC for help with your case. Our experienced team of lawyers will ensure that your rights are protected, and legally required compensation is received. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. From our offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve employees throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.