NJ Employees may soon be able to stay home during States of Emergency

January 16, 2015

During weather-related states of emergency, many businesses remain open and expect employees to report to work. Employees are then faced with a choice between commuting in potentially dangerous road conditions, or staying home and being docked a day’s pay. A N.J. state lawmaker believes that staying home in such a situation should be a penalty-free option. A bill introduced by State Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic), which was recently referred to the Assembly Labor Committee for a hearing, would protect employees from having to brave the weather to get to work. Under the Bill (A3958), employers would be banned from taking retaliatory action against an employee who is unable to get to work during states of emergency.  The bill does not, however, require employers to provide a paid day off. Employers would not be required to pay employees who do not work, and those unable to get to work would have to notify their supervisors in a timely manner. Returning to work at the end of the declared state of emergency would also be expected, provided that it is safe to do so. The bill carves out exceptions which include emergency personnel and those needed to provide other essential services, such as healthcare or utility workers. Additionally, the benefit would only be extended to employees who live in areas affected by the emergency. A similar measure (1717) in the Senate, introduced by Peter Banes, III (D-District 18) and Linda Greenstein (D- District 14), was advanced out of committee in September. If you have any questions or concerns regarding payment of wages during weather-related states of emergency, delayed openings or closures, please contact Dina Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resources Practice Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

Tags: Employee BenefitsHuman ResourcesDepartment of Labor