If you are getting unemployment insurance, that means that you have indicated that you are presently able to return back to work. So, if you are being offered suitable work (e.g. same or similar title, pay, weekly hours, etc.) and you refuse, it is likely that you would subsequently be denied any further unemployment compensation benefits. The general principle here is that if their former employer reopens and contacts you to return to work, you must do so, unless you have a good work-related reason for not returning. Under New Jersey law, if an employee refuses to return to work after notified by his or her employer, then the employer is required to notify the Division of Unemployment Compensation within forty-eight hours of the employee’s failure to return.
Under the Federal CARRES Act, there is a program named “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” (“PUA”). The PUA might allow you to continue to remain unemployed and collecting benefits if: (a) you or a family member have coronavirus; (b) you are the caregiver for a family member or person in your household who has the coronavirus are showing symptoms of the virus; (c) you are the primary caregiver of a child and that child cannot attend school because they are closed; or (d) you are a vulnerable worker and it would be unsafe for you to return to work.
Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, there are several COVID-19 based protected reasons that could delay you from returning back to work. These reasons include reasonable accommodation requests, seeking additional sick days off or seeking a medical leave for yourself or a family member. If you are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to other co-morbidities, you may be able to ask your company for a reasonable accommodation, provided you have documentation from your doctor saying that you should isolate because of your condition
Under the NJ Paid Sick Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11D-1, et seq., an employee who still has sick time left, can use their accrued sick time for (a) their own COVID-19 illness, (b) a family member’s COVID-19 illness; (c) compliance with a quarantine order; (d) employee’s child’s school is closed and (e) for generalized fear of COVID-19 exposure that manifests as stress and/or anxiety and so diagnosed by a medical doctor or a mental health care professional.
Both the NJ Family Leave Act and Federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act would allow eligible employees to go out on a leave to care for a family member and/or child due to school closures related to COVID-19, or for one’s own leave related to COVID-19.
Finally, the new Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act allows employees to receive up to 80 hours of pay for an order to quarantine, where the employee has been advised to self-isolate and where they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.