On June 25, 2009, a bill (A1263) providing employment protection for certain volunteer emergency responders passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate for consideration. Under the provisions of the proposed “Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act,” employers would be prohibited from terminating, dismissing, or suspending employees who fail to report to work because they are engaged in providing necessary volunteer emergency services in response to a declared state of emergency or an emergency alarm. To receive this protection, employees must provide their employer at least one hour’s notice before their scheduled shift that they will not be able to come to work, as well as official documentation regarding the emergency services rendered. Further, employees designated as “essential employees” by either statute or contract are not entitled to the protections set forth in this bill.
The bill does not require an employer to pay employees who miss work to provide emergency services. However, employees may elect to charge their absence as a vacation day or a sick day (if available).
Note: This article was published in the July 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.