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What are my rights and protections as a worker?

Last Updated: 06/07/2021

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, and report a violation to the NJ Department of Labor.

COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety: Under legislation signed by Governor Murphy on June 4, 2021, the majority of Executive Orders issued pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency expired on July 4, 2021. This includes Executive Order 192, which provided many COVID-19 worker rights and protections. However, certain federal COVID-19 worker rights and protections are in place for specific occupations and industries, such as healthcare workers and medical facilities. Learn more and stay up to date by visiting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 website: osha.gov/coronavirus.

Report A Violation: If you believe your employer has violated a health and/or safety law at work, you can file a complaint. If you work for a private business or nonprofit organization, you can file a complaint with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you are a public employee (state or municipal worker), you can file a complaint with the NJ Department of Health (DOH) or with the NJ Department of Labor (DOL).

Minimum Wage, Overtime, Paid Sick Time, Misclassification and More: The NJ Department of Labor enforces worker protection laws, regardless of immigration status. Learn more at myworkrights.nj.gov and report a violation here. Employer retaliation is unlawful, and the identity and other personally identifiable information of employees and cooperating witnesses is protected from disclosure to the employer and others, with limited exceptions.

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, including because of mandatory remote learning, you may be eligible for paid federal emergency Childcare FMLA or New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (FLI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 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 these benefits and protections here, learn more about FLA job protection here, and check your eligibility for various 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.