Category: Family Leave

Reopening Considerations for New Jersey: What Employers Need to Know About OSHA

As New Jersey begins to reopen under Governor Murphy’s reopening plan and more employees prepare to return to their physical workplaces, employers must continue to navigate a myriad of federal, state, and local guidance regarding how to best protect their workforces and prevent the spread of COVID-19. While many employers, particularly those outside of the construction industry, may not be used to regular dealings with the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all employers must consider OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidelines as they prepare reopening plans. While OSHA’s reopening guidance is advisory in nature, employers should remember that the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (“OSH Act”) General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1)) requires all employers to provide employees with workplaces that are free from recognized harms that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, which could include exposure to COVID-19. Thus, employers should be careful to ensure that their reopening plans comply with OSHA’s guidelines (along with more stringent state or local guidelines if they exist). The OSHA Guidelines categorize risk of worker exposure to COVID-19 from low to very high and lay out specific measures of protection that are recommended at each risk level. Employers should consult this portion of the Guidelines for specific guidance. The Guidelines also outline more...

New York Issues Guidance on Use of Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave for COVID-19

As discussed previously, New York recently passed a COVID-19 sick leave law that provides job protection and paid leave for employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 (“COVID-19 quarantine leave” or “quarantine leave”). New York State has since published guidance (“Guidance”) and FAQs relating to the COVID-19 sick leave law (“FAQs”), which discuss, among other things, how employees may be compensated under the new law, through a combination of benefits that include COVID-19 sick leave, New York’s Paid Family Leave (PFL), and short-term disability (DBL) benefits while in quarantine. Under the COVID-19 sick leave law, as clarified by the Guidance and FAQs: An employee who works for a small employer – one with ten or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 (with a net income of less than $1 million in the prior tax year) – and is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, department of health, local board of health, or any other government entity authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19 (“quarantine order”) is entitled to unpaid sick leave until the termination of the quarantine order. The employee may also be eligible to receive compensation for the duration...

New Jersey Further Expands Family Leave and Temporary Disability Benefits in the Wake of COVID-19

On April 14, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill S2374, which further amends the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA) and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Law (TDBL), including the Family Leave Insurance program (FLI), expanding on prior amendments signed into law on March 25, 2020 (included in Senate Bill 2304), as part of the state’s initial response to the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. These amendments are effective immediately and apply retroactively to leave taken on or after March 25, 2020. As the pandemic has continued, so too have the Legislature’s attempts to address its impact on New Jersey citizens, which have included efforts to protect New Jersey employees who are in need of temporary leave and/or income replacement benefits as a result of circumstances caused by COVID-19. Prior to the COVID-19 related amendments, eligible employees working for covered employers could, under the FLA, take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave in any 24-month period for the following three reasons: The birth of a child, including a child born pursuant to a valid written agreement between the employee and a gestational carrier The adoption or foster care placement of a child Caretaking for a family member with a serious health condition As discussed in our prior blog post,...

The U.S. Department of Labor Issues Updated Guidance on the FFCRA’s Paid Leave Provisions

As the spread of COVID-19 continues to upend our day-to-day routines and creates new questions for employers and employees alike, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued and updated guidance on the Families First Corona Response Act (FFCRA), which became effective on April 1, 2020. The FFCRA provides for two types of paid leave: leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). As a follow-up to our recent blog post, which explored the new legislation in-depth, this article identifies and explains the key points in the DOL’s most recent guidance on the FFCRA’s leave provisions. Which Employers Must Comply with FFCRA’s Paid Leave Provisions? Employers who have fewer than 500 employees at the time an employee requests to take leave are governed by the FFCRA. In calculating the number of employees for coverage purposes, employers must take into account full-time and part-time employees, employees who are already on leave, temporary employees who are jointly employed with another employer, and day laborers. Independent contractors are not considered employees for purposes of calculating the 500-employee threshold. Generally, two or more entities are separate employers for purposes of the 500-employee threshold, unless the entities meet the integrated employer test under the Family and Medical...

New Jersey Enacts and Expands Laws Providing Employees With Enhanced Benefits and Protections Resulting From COVID-19

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has recently signed into law two important bills – one (AB 3848) providing job protection to certain employees impacted by COVID-19 (“the COVID-19 Act” or “Act”), and the other (S2304) expanding the scope of the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL), the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Law (“TDBL”). The Act, along with the amendments to the existing laws referenced above, are discussed below and are intended to increase protection and benefits to employees as a result of COVID-19. Job Protection for Certain Employees Who Take Time Off Due to Infectious Disease Under the COVID-19 Act, during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by Governor Murphy concerning the coronavirus, employers are prohibited from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who requests or takes time off from work, for a specified time period, at the recommendation of a licensed New Jersey medical professional because the employee has or is likely to have an infectious disease that could infect others in the employee’s workplace. Upon the employee’s return from time off, he or she must be reinstated to the same position held when leave began, with no reduction in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, or other terms and conditions of...

Employers Must Act Fast: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed Into Law

To follow up on our recent blog post, “Workplace Planning for Coronavirus Concerns,” we are summarizing for our clients the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which President Trump signed into law on March 18, 2020. The House of Representative passed an earlier bill on March 14, but – two days later – revisited and significantly altered the bill on March 16, before sending it to the Senate for consideration. On March 18, the Senate passed the revised House version with no changes, and, that same day, the amended bill was signed into law. The FFCRA takes effect not later than April 2, 2020 (15 days after its enactment) and expires on December 31, 2020. With respect to employers, it contains certain provisions of particular note, including the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, discussed below. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“Emergency FMLA” or the “Act”) applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees (“covered employers”). Employees who have been employed by a covered employer for 30 calendar days are eligible for up to 12 weeks of emergency paid family medical leave due to a “qualifying need” arising from “a public health emergency” with respect to COVID-19...

Workplace Planning for Coronavirus Concerns

As coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, employers continue to inquire how they can safeguard employees’ health and well-being while ensuring the ability to maintain essential business operations. Our advice remains the same: The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure. Working from home for as many employees as possible is now the new normal for most businesses. In addition, employers large and small should take the time now to assess their policies and processes, addressing specific operational and human resources plans and issues in light of the current and evolving circumstances, as well as anticipated plans as a result of the pending Families First Coronavirus Response Act. On March 14, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201), which provides for a limited period of paid sick leave and expands the Family Medical Leave Act to provide an extended period of unpaid or partially paid leave for a public health emergency. The bill is now before the Senate, where it is expected to pass sometime this week. The bill contains several provisions that will impact employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employers should not make any changes to their policies and procedures until the bill is finalized...

NYC Paid Sick/Safe Time Law Expands

New York City’s Sick Leave Law was expanded on May 5, 2018, to include additional reasons for eligible employees to use NYC paid sick leave (called “safe leave”) including: to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other shelter or services program for relief from a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking; to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee or employee’s family members from future family offense matters, sexual offenses, stalking, or human trafficking; to meet with a civil attorney or other social service provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding, including but not limited to, matters related to a family offense matter, sexual offense, stalking, human trafficking, custody, visitation, matrimonial issues, orders of protection, immigration, housing, discrimination in employment, housing or consumer credit; to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement; to meet with a district attorney’s office; to enroll children in a new school; or to take other actions necessary to maintain, improve, or restore the physical, psychological, or economic health or safety of the employee or the employee’s family member or to protect those who associate or work...

New York Employers Mid-Year Review

In 2017, employers in New York encountered several important statutory changes affecting recruitment of applicants and retention of independent contractors. More legal change will come in 2018, warranting a mid-year review of current employment and hiring practices, as well as preparation for next year’s developments. Employers should take the time now to audit current practices and prepare for the imminent future. Pay Equity On May 4, 2017, Local Law 67 was enacted to prohibit all employers in New York City from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history (including current or prior wages, benefits, and other compensation), and from relying on an applicant’s salary history when determining his or her compensation package during the hiring process, including contract negotiations. The law applies to both public and private employers and employment agencies, and to their employees and agents (collectively, “employers”). Employers may, however, engage in communications with an applicant about his or her expectations as to salary, benefits, and compensation, including any deferred compensation or unvested equity which the applicant may forfeit as a result of leaving his or her current employer. In addition, if the candidate voluntarily (and without any prompting by the prospective employer), discloses his or her salary history to the prospective employer, the employer may consider salary history in determining compensation for the applicant,...

Third Circuit Decides Good Faith Belief of FMLA Abuse Justifies Termination

There are occasions when an employer becomes concerned that an employee on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA” or “the Act”) is using the leave for purposes not authorized by the Act. That situation was presented in Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC, a recently issued opinion from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. There, the Court held that an employer’s good faith belief that an employee was abusing his authorized FMLA leave constituted sufficient grounds on which to terminate the employee. The case provides valuable guidance as to how employers should proceed in such situations. The Facts Frederick Capps worked as a dough mixing machine operator for Mondelez Global (“Mondelez”). Because of a blood flow condition, Capps underwent bilateral hip replacement. At times thereafter, he suffered from severe leg pain and was continuously recertified approximately every six months for intermittent FMLA leave for his condition. On the evening of February 14, 2013, Capps was arrested for driving under the influence and spent the night in jail. He had not reported to work that day having called Mondelez’s FMLA message line complaining of leg pain. On August 7, 2013, Capps pled guilty to a DUI charge and spent 72 hours in jail immediately following the guilty plea. The company did not have a policy...