Civil Service Employees are dramatically affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Guidelines for State Employee Leave Time and Staffing have been posted on the Civil Service Commission website located at the following link: https://www.state.nj.us/csc/employees/covid.html.
The current Civil Service Commission Guidelines as published are separated into several subsections. The first subsection allows for implementation of flextime programs, alternative workweek programs, and adjusted daily or shift hours upon approval of the Civil Service Commission Chair or designee. This could mean modifications regarding hours of work as well as break times. However, prior to implementing a new program or a modification of an existing program, Appointing Authorities must advise the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations so that notification may be made to affected negotiations representatives.
The guidelines conditionally waive certain provision in N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.4 regarding sick leave procedures for State service. They provide that an employee will not be required to utilize accumulated leave time if they provide documentation of (i) that the employee (or immediate family member) is diagnosed with COVID-19, (ii) the employee (or immediate family member) is directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19, and/or (iii) the employee (or immediate family member) is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations. The employee will be required to provide documentation within three working days of the initial absence. If the employee fails to provide the documentation within the three days, they will be required to utilize their own accumulated leave time.
Employees who have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 virus will not be permitted to enter the workplace until they are either medially cleared or until the expiration of the recommended 14-day period of quarantine from the point of last exposure.
Until further notice, employees who had previously been subjected to documentation requirements due to excessive absenteeism or abuse of sick leave shall not be disciplined for future absences that occur as a result of their being suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 virus or having to be absent to care for a family member impacted by the virus. Additionally, the Appointing Authority shall not use any absenteeism related to COVID-19 virus to subject any employee to a documentation requirement for excessive absenteeism.
The third subsection of the Guidelines is entitled “School Closures.” The Guidelines indicate that Employees (who don’t have COVID-19 and are not under suspicion for same) but have children in preschool, elementary, or secondary school, and who’s children’s schools are closed due to the COVID crisis, may stay home under certain circumstance. If the employer can allow the employee to continue working from home remotely, then the employee will be required to work from home. If a work-from-home arrangement cannot be made or accommodated, then such employee will still be able to stay home but will not be required to utilize accumulated leave during the period of COVID-19 related closure.
However, this section of the Guidelines specifically states that certain essential employees may still be required to report to work. The Guidelines make mention of direct care employees, custody staff in correctional facilities, and any other employee deemed essential in accordance with N.J.A.C. 4A:6-2.5 or if required by an Appointing Authority’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Clearly this is a problematic scenario for a single parent. If you have questions about this situation, please call us for assistance.
There are also exceptions to the above rules if you are designated an essential employee.
New Jersey Department of Labor
In addition to the above information, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has information on its website located at https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml
These guidelines address when you can use accrued earned sick leave versus applying for Temporary Disability Insurance.
Attorneys Hartman Chartered
We understand this is a confusing and frightening time. The guidelines are complicated, but we can help you understand them and thus understand your rights. Please contact us at [email protected] or call us at 856-393-6073 for assistance.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.