On May 12, 2020, the New Jersey Senate Labor Committee approved S2380. The proposed legislation creates a rebuttable presumption of compensability in workers’ compensation for essential workers who contract COVID-19. This means that an employee who is deemed an “essential worker” and contracts COVID-19 would be presumed to have contracted the virus at work thereby entitling the employee to New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits including wage loss payment, medical treatment, and in extreme cases, permanent disability benefits. While employers are still permitted to introduce evidence to overcome the presumption of work-relatedness, this would be a significant advantage for essential workers in New Jersey who are on the front lines keeping our communities operating.
The Senate Committee defined essential workers as workers that deal in areas of public health, safety, and welfare. This includes police, fire, first responders, and those providing medical services in the healthcare realm. The proposed legislation will also, create a presumption in favor of anyone who works in close physical proximity to the public while conducting essential business. This provision also includes individuals working from home.
Most media outlets expect S2380 to receive final approval in the coming weeks. We will update this blog once the bill is formally passed.
Because the definition of essential workers defined in S2380 is so broad it is important to consult with an attorney if you believe you are an essential worker in New Jersey who contracted COVID-19 at work. The attorneys at Pearson Koutcher Law are available to provide free consultations at 856-675-7070.