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New Jersey - COVID-19 Workers Compensation and Essential Workers

On September 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (SB 2380) presuming that when COVID-19 is contracted by health care workers, public safety workers, and other essential employees, then it is work-related and fully compensable for workers’ compensation benefits and other employment benefits applicable to work-related injuries and illnesses. An essential employee is someone who, during a state of emergency:

  • Is a public safety worker or first responder, including any fire, police, or other emergency responders;
  • Is involved in providing medical and other healthcare services, emergency transportation, social services, and other care services, including services provided in health care facilities, residential facilities, or homes;
  • Performs functions which involve physical proximity to the public and are essential to the public’s health, safety, and welfare, including transportation services, hotel and other residential services, financial services, and the production, preparation, storage, sale, and distribution of essential goods such as food, beverages, medicine, fuel, and supplies for conducting essential business and work at home; or
  • Is any other employee deemed an essential employee by the authority declaring the state of emergency.

Any workers’ compensation claims paid to essential employees during the COVID-19 public health emergency will not be considered in calculating an employer’s Experience Modification Factor.

The law took effect on September 14, 2020 and is retroactive to March 9, 2020, which is the date of the governor’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration.