The New Jersey legislature moved another package of bills on an emergency basis this week. No committee hearings – just posted for a floor vote and to the Governor’s desk. All legislation that arrived on the Governor’s desk was voted out unanimously. However, some of the more controversial bills were pulled from the Assembly board list without a vote.
Signed into Law:
S2333 Civil Liability protection for health care providers. This legislation protects doctors and other health care providers from medical malpractice claims over treatment of patients with symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus, while Executive Order 103 remains in effect. The legislation was amended on the Senate floor to clarify that the immunity protection is limited to medical treatment related to the COVID-19 emergency and does not extend generally to treatment rendered while the EO103 remains in the effect that is unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency. NJCJI supported this legislation. It passed unanimously and has been signed by the Governor.
S2353 WARN – Ensures that mass layoffs resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak do not spark the notice or severance pay requirements of the recently amended WARN act. The legislation amends the definition of mass layoff to exclude national emergencies, among other exclusions, effective retroactively to March 9, 2020. It also makes the revised WARN act, which included new notice and severance requirements, effective 90 days after the termination of EO103.
NJCJI supported this legislation. It passed unanimously and has been signed by the Governor.
Legislation removed from board lists:
S2354 Authorizes the Governor to prohibit nonrenewal/cancellation of insurance for 60 days in state of emergency or public health emergency or both. It would clarify the statutory authority for EO123 which the Governor issued on March 9, and would also create ongoing authority to require insurance carriers to pay benefits on expired policies in future declared emergencies. This legislation passed the Senate 38-0 but the Assembly counterpart, A3920 (Bramnick), was removed from the April 13 Board list without a vote. NJCJI opposed this legislation.
Other Issues we are watching:
NJCJI is working to address efforts to shift the burden of causation on COVID-related workers’ compensation claims for “essential” employees interacting with the public for the duration of EO103. Please contact Alida if you would like to discuss this issue further.
Independent Contractor Pandemic Benefits:
NJCJI is also engaged on the treatment of freelance workers who apply for Pandemic Assistance. Concerns have been expressed regarding how NJDOL will be evaluating applications for freelance workers. This is a delicate and very important issue, and we are encouraged by NJDOL’s response. Please contact Alida if you would like to discuss this issue further.