New Jersey lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from taking any adverse action against an employee who is unable to report to work due to a state of emergency.  The bill would also prohibit employers from requiring employees to use sick, personal, or other leave if they are unable to work during a state of emergency.

The bill defines a “state of emergency” as “a natural or man-made disaster or emergency for which a state of emergency has been declared by the Governor, or. . . by a municipal emergency management coordinator.” 

The bill requires employees who are unable to report to work due to a state of emergency to (1) make their best effort to report the absence to their employer, and (2) return to work as soon as possible, but no later than their first shift after the state of emergency has been rescinded.  While the bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to use sick, personal or other leave during states of emergency (whether paid or unpaid), it would not require employers to pay employees for time not actually worked.

Under the current version of the bill, employers could receive fines of up to $5,000 for violating the proposed act and up to $10,000 for each subsequent violation. 

The bill has been referred to the Senate Labor Committee.  Check back here for additional updates on the bill’s progress in the legislature.