Construction Workers in NJ Exposed to COVID-19
According to the Federal Reserve chairman, the COVID-19 pandemic caused people in 40% of American households earning less than $40,000 to lose their jobs in March. Concurrently, millions are being exposed to serious health and economic hardships attributable to uninformed decisions and poor judgment. Construction workers and other essential employees may benefit from understanding more about their rights and what’s required of their employers in the wake of this pandemic.
NJ Workers Affected By COVID-19
Millions of construction professionals in New Jersey are currently suffering hardships because they were unnecessarily exposed to unsafe working conditions during the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, several federal and state protections have been put in place to provide aid to employees affected by a wide variety of circumstances. New Jersey has some of the most comprehensive family leave, temporary disability, and earned sick leave laws in the United States.
Obtaining Workers’ Compensation for COVID-19
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, there are several scenarios where NJ workers have state and federal protections and benefits available for COVID-19 exposure. The NJDOL recommends workers speak with employers first about pursuing potential alternatives whether that be working remotely, getting paid time off, taking a leave of absence, or some other flexible opportunity that may be available.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation Under COVID-19
The NJDOL outlines several scenarios where state and federal protections or benefits would be available to employees.
Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibit the symptoms and are unable to work may be entitled to use up to 80 hours of federal emergency paid sick leave. The state also requires employers to provide full-time, part-time, and temporary workers with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave each year. Under the CARES ACT, employees already out of sick leave may apply for up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance through the state.
Once unemployment insurance benefits have been exhausted, or as an alternative means altogether, filing for temporary disability insurance would call for a health provider to make a diagnosis and prognosis relating to how long you’d be out of work. The amount of TDI benefits afforded to you would depend on your wage records already on file. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act may also provide NJ employees with medical-protected paid leave as well.
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, employees who contracted COVID-19 from exposure through a work-related encounter may qualify for workers’ compensation and should file through their employer. Anyone exposed to COVID-19 through their work activities and told to self-quarantine by a public health authority or health care provider may also qualify for the aforementioned protections and benefits, including workers’ compensation.
Challenges With Obtaining Workers’ Compensation
Outside of contracting COVID-19 or self-quarantining under orders recognized by the state, it may prove difficult for the average person to obtain workers’ compensation. Many other difficult situations created by COVID-19 may still allow employees to file for various state and federal protections, however. Gig workers and those unable to work due to child care issues, temporary closings, state-ordered closings, workforce reductions, or preexisting health issues may still be able to pursue partial insurance benefits or sick leave.
Workers’ compensation in NJ may also provide employees with medical benefits, death benefits, and up to $3,500 for funeral expenses. If an employee dies from a work-related illness like COVID-19 exposure, the surviving spouse, minor children, and any additional dependents are entitled to death benefits. Workers’ compensation also pays for any medical treatment that may be related to the COVID-19 exposure that occurred at the workplace.
Legal Assistance for Obtaining Workers’ Compensation
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or you feel you’re entitled to workers’ compensation, a construction accident lawyer may be able to help. Workers in New Jersey in need of a construction accident lawyer can contact the Voorhees Law Office, LLC. Our law office in Somerville can be reached by phone at (908) 200-2297 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The physical address of our office is 68 North Bridge Street, Somerville, NJ 08876. Give us a call to speak with a lawyer about workers’ compensation benefits.