How in the World Will Your Paycheck Survive COVID-19?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Wed Mar 2020
Whether you have the coronavirus or not, you might have some pressing concerns. Schools are closed, and many businesses are shutting down early. While you’re home with the kiddies or just plain out of work, your income could come to a half. So, how in the world will your paycheck survive COVID-19?
No doubt, the whole situation seems a bit surreal. If you’re a parent of a school-aged child, you likely scheduled your work hours accordingly. Meanwhile, if you work for tips as a server in a local restaurant or bar, you may wonder how you’ll find the money to pay basic bills like rent and utilities. The bottom line is that you’re facing a tough dilemma.
Truth be told, the threat of a pandemic brings on many fears. As a law firm that focuses on assisting people secure benefits, the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo wants to provide you with information that may help you.
First, you should know that the New Jersey Department of Labor has created some printable guides outlining the benefits for New Jersey employees. They’re available in both English and Spanish and breakdown eleven categories where you might experience a loss of income.
You’ll need to know the four categories of income replacement as well. For starters, New Jersey law requires many employers to allow their staff to accrue sick leave hours. This is referred to as earned sick leave.
In the meantime, you may be able to make a claim for temporary disability benefits from the state or your employer’s private plan. In select circumstances, you may also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you’re sick, you are not entitled to unemployment benefits. However, there are circumstances related to the current state of affairs where you may qualify for them.
Family leave insurance is another benefit available to some employees.
COVID-19 Scenarios and Getting Paid
If you’ve been diagnosed, have symptoms of, or exposed to the coronavirus, you will be expected to quarantine at home. Of course, if you’re sick, you’ll likely welcome the time off from work as you seek to return to good health. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll still be worried about lost wages.
In all of the preceding circumstances, you’d be entitled to make an application for earned sick leave, temporary disability benefits, and family leave insurance. In some select cases, you may also be entitled to workers’ compensation insurance. Right now, the Department of Labor has this as a big question mark. However, this could apply for individuals who can trace their illness to occupational exposure. For example, you could be a social worker or medical professional who comes in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus.
In New Jersey, workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits don’t kick in until after the seven day waiting period. In best-case scenarios, you won’t experience permanent injuries and will return to full health. However, if that’s not the case, you may be entitled to either partial or total permanent disability benefits. If the degree of permanency is not total, you can still return to your job.
What Happens if You’re Quarantined?
There are a few circumstances where you may quarantine and look for benefits. If you’re an office worker and another employee becomes sick, you’ll likely go home to wait things out. Even if you don’t ever get ill, you are entitled to benefits. You can make a claim for earned sick leave, temporary disability, and family leave insurance.
In the meantime, the Department of Labor leaves it open as far as a workers’ compensation claim. That said, there’s one exception. Health care workers who are exposed at work and self-quarantine may be able to make a claim.
With the government closing schools, it’s left many parents in a predicament. No one is sick, and they have no one to care for their minor children. Unfortunately, the only place to turn for help is earned sick leave.
However, if a family member is home sick with COVID-19 and you need to care for them, you have one more place to apply for funds. Whether it’s your child, spouse, or parent, you can make an application for family leave insurance.
There are three cases when you might be entitled to unemployment benefits. Broken down, these include the following:
- Your employer was ordered to close, and you’re out of work
- Your hours were reduced because of slowdowns, including government requirements
- Your employer decided to stop business altogether
All things considered, you may be concerned that going to work puts you in dangerous circumstances. If your intent is self-distancing, you will be eligible for earned sick leave. However, it’s questionable whether you can receive any other type of benefit.
As the world awaits quick answers to resolving the coronavirus, we are here to help you with any questions or concerns. Our commitment is to the community that surrounds us. Give us a call if there’s something you don’t understand as far as your situation and receiving benefits.