Taken from NJSpotlight.com
By Michael Hill
September 17, 2020
It’s a major shift in New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law. During the health emergency, essential workers no longer have to prove they contracted the coronavirus on the job to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Gov. Phil Murphy signed it into law Monday, retroactive to March 9.
“They’re required to go to work. They go there, they get sick and then, under the old worker’s compensation system, they would have to keep proving, it would be very difficult, they would have to prove that they got the COVID at work,” Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) said.
The new law shifts the burden of proof from the employee to the employer. One nurse from Virtua Memorial Hospital says the law will be a game changer.
“I’m thinking of one member in particular who had a prolonged hospital stay for a documented at-work exposure and she’s still having problems getting her workman’s comp,” said Sheryl Mount, president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5105. “The news of this passing to her was a godsend.”
“Workers who sacrificed their health to take care of these desperately sick patients should never have to take on their employer,” said Debbie White, the president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees.
The new law also applies to gas station attendants and automotive and convenience store workers.
“It’s unfair, and mostly it’s unreasonable, to pass a law with a presumption, an automatic presumption, that an employee contracted the COVID-19 virus while at work,” said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association.
A maskless mob that greeted social media influencer Nelk Boys in Seaside Heights led to disorderly conduct citations.
“It was irresponsible from top to bottom in every respect,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing.