Preventive Law for Employers
NJ Employment Law

Coming April 1: New Job Rights for Volunteer First Responders

The New Jersey Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act, (NJSA 40A:14-213 and -214) which goes into effect on April 1, 2010,  bars employers from terminating, dismissing, or suspending an employee who fails to report for work because he or she is serving as a “volunteer emergency responder” who is either: (1) actively engaged in responding to an emergency alarm; or (2) volunteering as an emergency responder during a state of emergency declared by the President or the Governor.

Note that the volunteer emergency responder has certain obligations.  First, the volunteer emergency responder must provide the employer at least one hour’s notice  before his/her regular starting time that he/she is rendering emergency services in response to an emergency alarm or a declared state of emergency. In addition, the volunteer  must give his/ her employer a copy of the incident report and a certification by the incident commander affirming that the volunteer emergency responder was actively engaged in, and necessary for, rendering emergency services, including the date and time the volunteer was relieved from emergency duty.

Under the new law,  employers do not have to pay  for any time that the employee misses while serving as a volunteer emergency responder. However,  if the employee has available sick or vacation days, the employee can use them to cover the time away from work.

Excluded from the new law are  employees who, by statute or contract, are deemed “essential” employees. Unfortunately,  the term is not defined under the new law.

New Jersey employers should review their policies to make sure they comply with the new law.  In addition, employers should assemble a list of workers who are volunteer emergency responders and determine if any of them are “essential”.

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Who is Ann Kiernan?

Ann Kiernan is an employment lawyer who has been practicing law in New Jersey for more than 30 years. She represents only employers and management and regularly provides management training companies big and small. Employment law is constantly changing, and Ann is familiar how these changes affect employers. To keep up-to-date and learn what issues are currently affecting businesses and employers in New Jersey, read the blog.

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