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NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas issued the following statement on today’s passage by the Assembly of bill A-3999, which allows a presumption that certain essential employees contracted COVID-19 on the job and shifts the response costs onto New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system.

“Those who sponsored and voted in favor of this legislation made a conscious choice to place additional burdens of a worldwide pandemic on the backs of New Jersey employers who are already struggling.

“This bill will needlessly increase workers’ comp premiums and ultimately result in a significant financial loss for employers.

“More disappointingly, in addition to forcing the employer community to shoulder the increase, New Jersey is irresponsibly leaving federal CARES Act money on the table that is specifically allocated to cover the cost of essential workers who do contract COVID-19 on the job.

“The Legislature had the opportunity to modify this bill to define an essential employee to better reflect the elevated risk they may have faced while working through the pandemic.

“There was also the chance to change the bill’s language to limit the term of presumption to a time when stay-at-home orders were in place, when it was more likely for an employee to have limited movements between work and home. This is noteworthy as there are many more scenarios of COVID-19 being contracted in social settings, rather than in workplace settings.

“Passage of this bill is the very definition of kicking businesses while they are down.”