Trenton – Legislation which would prohibit employers from terminating, dismissing, or suspending an employee that is actively engaged in providing paid or volunteer emergency medical services related to a state of emergency, passed through the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator James Holzapfel.
“Our emergency first-responders provide our communities with an essential service that we depend upon during our most vulnerable moments,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Right now, we are in the midst of one of the most trying moments we have experienced not only as a state, but as a nation. Our emergency medical responders put their lives on hold to serve us during times like these, and their selfless commitment to the wellness of our communities should never result in the loss of their employment.”
“Our emergency medical responders volunteer their time to serve our communities and are on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “The call to action for emergency medical responders can come at a moment’s notice, and these selfless individuals should have the reassurance that their employment will not be put in jeopardy because they have put their communities first.”
Under the bill, S-2351, protections would only be available if the employee provides their employer with notice, one hour before the start of their shift, that they are providing emergency service in response to a state of emergency. The employee would also be required to provide their employer with a certified copy of the incident report endorsed by the incident commander, officer, or official in charge.
“Selfless and dedicated volunteers are the backbone of emergency services in communities across the state,” said Senator Holzapfel (R-Ocean). “No first-responder who leaves the safety of their home and family to serve the community during the coronavirus crisis should fear losing a job. Emergency medical personnel are more essential now than ever, and when their services are required in an emergency, that must take priority over job responsibilities.”
The bill would require the incident commander, officer, or official in charge to provide notice to an emergency medical responder’s employer in the instance of providing emergency services for more than one consecutive day.
The bill does not require an employer to pay an employee for any time that the employee is absent, but the employee is free to use any vacation or sick days they have available.