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New Jersey State AFL-CIO ‘Thanks’ Governor For Signing Into Law Workers’ Compensation Reform For Essential Workers Who Contracted COVID-19

Published Wednesday, September 16, 2020
by New Jersey AFL-CIO News
New Jersey State AFL-CIO ‘Thanks’ Governor For Signing Into Law Workers’ Compensation Reform For Essential Workers Who Contracted COVID-19

(TRENTON, NEW JERSEY) - New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech is publicly thanking Governor Phil Murphy for signing into law Workers’ Compensation Reform for Essential Workers who contracted COVID-19.

Union-represented Workers are on the front lines, ensuring the public has access to essential services during the pandemic.  As a result, there are more than 47,000 confirmed infections in New Jersey, resulting in 1,500 deaths.  

“Governor Murphy ‘has done a very good job in handling the pandemic in New Jersey under very difficult circumstances.’  Signing this bill into law ‘is another example of his leadership in the fight against COVID-19,’” Wowkanech said.  “Front Line Essential Workers who were ‘required to come in and work during the stay-at-home order and continue to perform services that put themselves and their families at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 at their jobs deserve the benefits of Workers Compensation and peace of mind this law provides.’”

Essential Employees’ Workers Compensation Claims are routinely rejected by their employers because the Employees can’t prove they contracted COVID-19 at their place of work

The law now shifts the “burden of proof” from the Employee to the employer in Workers Compensation Claims for Essential Workers who interact with the general public and contract COVID-19 during the declared State of Emergency. 

The “presumption” of infection at the workplace has been rebuttable by the employer or the insurance company if evidence exists that the Worker contracted the virus outside the course of their employment.

The law does not cover Workers who work from home or who do not interact with the general public. 

The law covers only Essential Workers during a declared state of emergency.

“Our Members ‘have provided an unprecedented response to the need of the public and (it was) critical that our lawmakers don’t forget these Workers’ own needs as well,’” Wowkanech said.  

“As much as ‘we appreciate’ seeing the nightly news clips of cheering neighbors ‘welcoming home First Responders after a grueling day’s work’ at health care facilities treating Coronavirus victims, ‘more (had to) be done to ensure the values we put on display are indeed embraced by our elected officials,’” he said.

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