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How can I get food or other essentials if I cannot leave my home? Is there any help with food, treatment, or bills if I need to self-isolate or quarantine? Will I get fired?
If you are quarantined or in home isolation, do not leave your home. There are many programs in place to help you and your family including food assistance, unemployment insurance, sick leave, and job protections. Learn more below.
How can I get food or other essentials if I cannot leave my home?
Many pharmacies and grocery stores offer delivery. Please use these services to the extent possible. A friend or relative may also be able to bring you the supplies you need.
Seniors unable to prepare their meals and have no family member, friend, neighbor or caregiver to help may be eligible for home-delivered meals. Contact your local Area Agencies on Aging for assistance.
In addition, the New Jersey Division of Disability Services provides meals for individuals with permanent disabilities under the age of 60 living alone without support and who have an increased level of risk for serious or life-threatening complications if exposed to COVID-19.
To see if you are eligible or to apply, please call 211.
New Jerseyans enrolled in SNAP may use their Families First EBT card to purchase eligible groceries online through Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite, and The Fresh Grocer. Under federal rules, SNAP benefits cannot be used to pay for delivery fees. Recipients can register their EBT card with Amazon at Amazon.com/SNAP. To learn more about their SNAP programs, visit Walmart, Shoprite, or The Fresh Grocer.
Those in need of food, cash, or other assistance, can learn about what programs are available and how to apply at New Jersey's official COVID-19 website in English and Spanish.
If you are still experiencing difficulties, please call 211, where assistance is free and available in several languages.
If I've been told to quarantine, can I use sick leave?
New Jersey has some of the most comprehensive Earned Sick Leave, Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance laws in the country, which cover all employees -- full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal.
In addition, your employer may provide you with federal paid sick/childcare leave to care for yourself, a loved one, or to provide childcare. Your employer is not required to provide you with it after December 31, 2020, but may voluntarily do so and receive a tax credit. Learn more at irs.gov/coronavirus/new-employer-tax-credits
Visit nj.gov/labor to learn more about the many state and federal laws or benefit programs that could help you.
NOTE: If you take family leave, when you return to work, you are generally entitled to return to the same position you held before leave. Your employer may not retaliate against you because you took or attempted to take leave under the NJFLA. To find out more or to file a complaint, go to NJCivilRights.gov or call 973-648-2700.
Can I get unemployment if I need to quarantine?
In addition to New Jersey's unemployment, temporary disability, and family leave benefits, there are several programs available to help you.
Under federal legislation, New Jersey's unemployment system can provide more benefits and help those who are not typically eligible:
- Independent contractors, the self-employed, "gig" workers, and those looking for part-time work, are eligible (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance")
- Those who, under normal circumstances, don't have enough work history or who have exhausted regular Unemployment benefits, are eligible (known as "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance")
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 57 weeks of benefits, up until March 13, 2021, to NJ workers who are (1) not eligible for unemployment benefits in any state, including self-employed workers ( independent contractors, "gig" workers), (2) otherwise able and available to work except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason, and (3) able to demonstrate labor market attachment, through earnings or an official work offer
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) was extended through March 13, 2021. PEUC now provides up to 24 weeks of additional benefits to those who exhaust 26 weeks of state unemployment, for a maximum of 50 weeks. Individuals who exhaust these benefits may be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of state unemployment extended benefits.
- Those collecting regular unemployment insurance or PUA may be eligible for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $300 per week from January through March 13, 2021.
To apply, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
NOTE: Applicants will be assessed first for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. If traditional unemployment benefits are not applicable to that worker, the application may be denied first and then assessed by NJ Department of Labor for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
For more information, the Department of Labor has created a Frequently Asked Questions During the Coronavirus Emergency for NJ Workers resource guide.
Can my employer fire me if I was told to quarantine and am not able to go to work?
No. Your employer cannot fire you if you need to quarantine. Your job is protected.
The State of New Jersey passed legislation prohibiting an employer – during this public health crisis – from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease which requires the employee to miss time at work.
An employee who requests or takes time off from work, based on the recommendation of a public health professional, may not be terminated or refused reinstatement if the employee is likely to infect others in the workplace. Medical professionals will not be making many of these recommendations.
What if I can't safely quarantine at home?
If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer will call you to discuss any needs you may have, inquire about your living situation, and connect you with additional support if you require help in quarantine. The State is securing beds at hotels, field medical stations, and other locations for individuals who cannot safely quarantine at home.