COVID-19 Presumption of Compensability for Essential Workers in New Jersey

On September 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law S2380, creating a presumption that COVID-19 contracted by essential employees, including, but not limited to, health care workers and public safety workers, is work-related for the purpose of workers’ compensation benefits.

This legislation creates a rebuttable presumption that the contraction of COVID-19 by an essential employee is work-related. The presumption shall only apply to an “essential employee” who performs functions involving interactions with the public during the public health emergency declared by Executive Order 103 of 2020, as extended by subsequent executive orders. 

The prima facie presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of evidence demonstrating that the worker was not exposed to COVID-19 in the course and scope of employment.

An “essential employee” is defined as an employee that is essential in the support of a gubernatorial or federally declared statewide emergency response, or a public or private employee whose duties and responsibilities are essential to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

The bill is retroactively effective to March 9, 2020.