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What are my rights and protections as a worker?

Last Updated: 09/11/2020

Job Protections: Your employer cannot fire or punish you if you miss work because you have or are likely to have COVID-19. Learn more about the law and how it protects you at work.

Safety Precautions: Your employer must protect you from workplace hazards that can cause illness or injury, provide required personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensure its use. Learn more about federal workplace standards. Many businesses have to follow specific safety guidance in New Jersey. Learn more about sector-specific protocols in New Jersey.

Reopening Guidance: Find summarized information of reopening guidance for each sector online here.

Report a Violation: If you are fired, retaliated against, or otherwise penalized for missing work because you have or are likely to have COVID-19, you can report violations and seek recourse through the Department of Labor. If your employer is not following safety requirements as outlined by the Governor's Executive Orders, you may report a violation using this online form.

Paid Sick Leave: If you are sick, need time to care for others, or are unable to work due to the public health emergency, you may be eligible for New Jersey Earned Sick Leave, or emergency federal paid sick leave, paid by your employer. Learn more about sick leave here and check your eligibility for various benefits programs here.

Temporary Disability: If you're unable to work due to illness, self-quarantine, or pregnancy, you may be able to apply for Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI). It's against the law for an employer to retaliate against you applying for or receiving TDI, and your job may be protected under the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Learn more about temporary disability insurance here and check your eligibility for various benefits programs here.

Caregivers: If you must care for children or family members due to the coronavirus outbreak, you may be eligible for paid federal emergency Childcare FMLA or New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI). It's against the law for an employer to retaliate against you for applying for or receiving FLI, and your job may be protected under the NJ Family Leave Act (FLA). Learn more about Family Leave Insurance here, learn more about FLA job protection here, and check your eligibility for various benefits programs here.

Seasonal Farm Workers: The Department of Health has issued guidance for employers, owners, and operators of seasonal farm labor camps. Click here to learn more about employee protections.

Refugees and Immigrants: The NJ Department of Labor offers free services regardless of your immigration status. These services include investigating potential violations of labor standards, obtaining backpay and other restitution for workers whose employers violated the law, and conducting outreach to workers and businesses. Click here to learn more about your rights and protections.

Unemployment Insurance (UI): If you've lost your job and are seeking help, click here to learn about unemployment insurance (UI), whether you qualify, and how to apply.

Returning to work after unemployment: If you have been collecting unemployment benefits and your former employer asks you to return to work or you receive another offer, you cannot refuse "suitable work" and still collect benefits in most cases. However, if the work puts your health and safety at high risk, and you have discussed the workplace health and safety concerns with your employer, you may be able to refuse the work and continue to collect benefits. Click here to learn about whether this or other exceptions may apply to you.

Freelancers, self-employed individuals, and gig workers: The CARES ACT extends unemployment benefits to freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors, and others who typically are not eligible. To see if you are eligible for benefits, see this guide created by the New Jersey Department of Labor. To learn more about how to apply for benefits, refer to this guide.