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NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka issued the following statement regarding Gov. Phil Murphy’s signing of A-3999/S-2380 into law. The legislation allows a presumption that certain essential employees contracted COVID-19 on the job and then shifts the response costs onto New Jersey’s workers compensation system.
“Over the course of this pandemic, we have heard Governor Murphy express sympathy and empathy for New Jersey businesses struggling to survive. Today, we are disappointed to say that those words ring hollow.
“Like the lawmakers who voted to put this misguided bill on his desk, Governor Murphy made a conscious choice to place additional burdens of a worldwide pandemic on the backs of struggling New Jersey employers who have made great sacrifices.
“As we have repeatedly stated, there is federal CARES Act money specifically meant to rightfully cover the costs of essential workers who truly do contract COVID-19 on the job. Instead, that money was left on the table and our beleaguered employers are forced to pick up those costs.
“More disappointingly, Governor Murphy had the opportunity to conditionally veto this bill to limit the time frame of its application to the stay-at-home order, when an essential employee had far fewer movements between work and home.
“Without that modification, any essential worker out and about at a time when more people are catching COVID-19 in social settings than workplace settings, or those traveling to other states on vacation, can now make a claim they contracted it at work.
“During this time of unprecedented hardship for New Jersey businesses, we had hoped our policymakers would relent from placing yet another burden on employers. NJBIA asks for some much-needed balance in how we treat our job creators that have already been closed for months, are currently being asked to pay more state taxes, and are constantly being hit with new mandates like this. We will continue to implore new, common sense legislation to address the concerns of the business community as it relates to this policy.”