On April1, 2010, the Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act (the “Act”) went into effect, providing employment protection to members of a volunteer fire company, first aid, rescue, or ambulance squad, or any municipal emergency management office. The Act prohibits employers from terminating, dismissing, or suspending any employee who fails to report for work because he or she is serving as a volunteer emergency responder during a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or the Governor of New Jersey.
To receive the protections of this Act, the employee must: (1) provide the employer with notice, at least one hour before he is scheduled to report to work, that he is engaged in responding to an emergency, and (2) after returning to work, the employee must provide a copy of the incident report and a certification from the incident commander confirming that the employee was an active and necessary member of the emergency response. An employer is not required to pay the employee for missed work time while responding to an emergency. However, the employee may charge his absence as a vacation or sick day. The protections of this Act do not apply to employees deemed essential by either contract or law.
This Act provides employment protection to employees who are also active members of a volunteer emergency response team. Employers in New Jersey should be mindful not to discriminate or retaliate against an employee who is absent from work because the employee is responding to a declared state of emergency.