RETURNING TO TRADITIONAL ONSITE WORK FROM TELEWORK/WORK FROM HOME ARRANGEMENTS AND EMPLOYMENT POLICIES RELATING TO COVID-19
As New Jersey schools and business continue to reopen, recent orders, regulations and laws may impact employer’s plans to return to traditional onsite work. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020. The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees (typically U.S.) to provide paid sick leave for various reasons related to COVID-19. On March 25, 2020 Governor Murphy expanded the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (which was already one of the most comprehensive) to require employers to provide up to forty (40) hours of paid sick leave for several reasons. Further, per recent EEOC guidance, the ADA applies to both onsite and remote workers, meaning remote workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA so employers need to be ready to engage in the “interactive process” with them. The EEOC has also announced as a practical matter, given the circumstances that have led to the need for telework, employers and employees should both be creative and flexible about what can be done where an employee needs a reasonable accommodation for telework at home in these circumstances. If possible, providing interim accommodations might be appropriate while an employer discusses a request with the employee or is waiting for additional information. https://www.eeoc.gov/transcript-march-27-2020-outreach-webinar and https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
Finally, Executive Order 107 which requires that all businesses in the state “must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements” has not been repealed. Simply, all employers, especially NJ employers, need to be very cautious in transitioning from remote work/telework to traditional onsite work to ensure they do not run afoul of any federal or state law or regulation. Employers should strongly consider updating their employment polices relating to COVID-19, especially paid sick leave, remote/telework, accommodations, Travel, Paid Time Office, and Crisis management (COVID-19 response). Contact Carluccio, Leone, Dimon, Doyle, and Sacks, L.L.C. with any questions and for further information regarding COVID-19 related labor and employment matters and litigation.
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