The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has been working diligently on behalf of New Jersey’s frontline heroes, especially those workers infected by the coronavirus. That work alongside state lawmakers paid big dividends on Monday, April 13, as important pro-labor legislation was introduced.

When these bills become law, workers won’t have to clear high hurdles to get their hard-earned benefits. The bill is priority legislation for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and we will be working closely with the Legislature and Governor to assure that New Jersey’s workers compensation system adapts to the needs of victims during this pandemic.

The reform concerns the “burden of proof” requirement in workers compensation for essential employees.

Currently, if an essential employee is infected by the virus where they work, they must prove that the infection occurred there.  That is almost impossible to do, because no worker knows exactly how or when they were infected.  This legislation would create a presumption that, if you are an essential employee and you interact with the public on the job, you contracted the virus while you were working, unless the employer can prove otherwise.

S-2380 was introduced Monday by Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-3rd District. The Assembly companion is sponsored by Assemblymen Tom Giblin, D-34th District, and John Burzichelli, D-3rd District, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-7th District.

We thank these sponsors for their strong support for workers negatively impacted by the coronavirus. We respectfully urge legislative leadership to act on these bills as soon as possible to ensure impacted workers who are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic are properly covered by our workers compensation system.