All Essential Workers Now Deemed “Eligible” for Workers’ Compensation Benefits Under New Legislation
On September 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed important legislation that benefits all workers who contracted COVID-19 while working through the current pandemic. The legislation creates the presumption that the contracted illness is “work related.” Before this legislation was signed, only “public safety workers” such as police, fire, EMT, and medical personnel, were granted this presumption.
This newly signed legislation now grants eligibility for benefits to allessential workers who worked during the lock-down from March through July, while previously only those deemed “public safety workers” were eligible for benefits. Employees in the public and private sectors were deemed “essential workers” during the pandemic if their duties and responsibilities were essential to the public’s health, safety, and welfare. This includes workers like gas station attendants, grocery store personnel, and employees of other retail stores and warehouses.
While this legislation does not guarantee that all essential workers will receive benefits, it does make them eligible if they fall into one of the “essential employees” categories. Benefits may include wage replacement for lost time from work due to the virus, or an award of permanent disability if the worker has not made a full recovery from COVID -19.