New Jersey Extends Family Leave Law in Response to COVID-19

April 17, 2020

Retroactive to March 25, employers in New Jersey must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to employees affected by COVID-19-related quarantine orders or school closures.

The expansion of the state's Family Leave Act (S2374) was unanimously passed by both the State Assembly and Senate and quickly signed by Governor Phil Murphy (D). 

The new law extends New Jersey’s current family leave law to cover workers who have been affected by public health crisis-related:

  • School or child-care facility closures;

  • Mandatory prophylactic measures, such as quarantines; or

  • A recommendation, direction, or order that a family member be isolated or quarantined because of suspected exposure to the communicable disease.

Exemption for highly compensated employees inapplicable:  The Family Leave Act provisions permitting an employer to deny family leave to highly compensated employees do not apply in a state of emergency due to a communicable disease. 

Paid leave extended also: The law comes on the heels of the recently-enacted S2304, which expands New Jersey’s 40-hour paid sick and safe time benefit.  Under the new law, employers must allow employees to used earned leave in certain circumstanced due to the virus.  

State of the states:  Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and the District of Columbia have expanded paid leave benefits to workers affected by the virus.  Several more states are considering COVID-19-related paid leave measures, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Maine, and Kentucky.  Meanwhile, the State of New York has sued the federal government over U.S. Department of Labor regulations for “restricting coronavirus-based paid sick leave.” 

Looking ahead:  While the crisis has sidelined a number of policy issues, others, such as family leave, will be considered more closely—and urgently—by federal and state lawmakers.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly claimed S2374 extended paid family leave.  We regret the mistake, which has since been corrected.