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Return to Work Checklist for New Jersey Employers

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Caitlin Carragee

Considerations for New Jersey Employers While Preparing to Bring Employees Back to Work

This is not an exhaustive list. It is an addendum to the SurePayroll Return to Work Checklist. Employers should consult with their HR professionals or legal counsel, where appropriate, as well as the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development and COVID-19 websites.

New Jersey Return to Work
  • Consult federal, state, and local guidance and examine timing and any requirements related to re-opening businesses. New Jersey has issued several executive orders since mid-June allowing for certain businesses to re-open, but Executive Order 158 rescinds a portion of a previous order. Indoor dining is temporarily paused, so any retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses previously authorized to open its indoor premises may do so only where it prohibits consumption of food or beverages and smoking. Check out other state-specific guidance.
  • Determine recall or rehire date of employees. This will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the specific needs and requirements of a business. This may also impact employers seeking loan forgiveness as part of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, as well as may establish entitlement to leave benefits under FFCRA. Therefore, determining a recall or rehire date will be dependent on the facts and circumstances of each business.
  • Understand any applicable federal, state, or local leave laws. 
  • Understand the obligations under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if you have unionized employees or an employment agreement, for non-unionized employees. Check applicable agreements for specific obligations. For example, a CBA may provide rehire/recall language, including agreed upon factors in order to bring employees back. Most changes will need to be negotiated with the union. For employment agreement obligations, employers should review the contract and, if in doubt, consult legal counsel.
  • If an employee was terminated and signed a separation agreement, check the language to see if the rehire requires an amendment to the separation agreement.
  • Consider providing letter offering return to work or rehire opportunity to employees. Reinstatement, whether from furlough or permanent layoff, and documentation of the employee’s response should be in writing, and documenting offers and rejections may be important for unemployment insurance and for PPP loan forgiveness purposes.
  • Review and adhere to internal policies and state/local laws on rehiring, if any, to determine any reinstatement of accrued sick leave, PTO, or vacation time, especially if these were not paid out at the time of furlough or layoff.
  • Consider providing returning employees with the option to complete a new Form W-4 in case the employee wants to make changes upon returning to work.
  • Explore whether “new hire” employee documents (i.e. employee handbook, handbook acknowledgment, direct deposit, employment agreement, etc.), are required and, if so, properly executed to ensure they are effective.
  • Does the employee need to update an existing Form I-9 or complete a new Form I-9? Review information and compliance requirements for Form I-9.
  • Did employee elect COBRA or New Jersey continuation coverage, and what benefits will employee be entitled to upon their return?
  • Determine status of health plans, cafeteria plans, and fringe benefit plans, such as vision and dental insurance.
  • Determine implications for 401(k), 403(b), and/or pension plans
  • Evaluate executive compensation and exempt classification status to determine what, if any, changes are necessary. Also review any applicable employment or severance agreements.
  • Consider appropriate health and safety requirements under federal, state, and local laws or specific actions taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn what new supplemental policies on safety are recommended or required to be followed and documented. For example, measures to promote social distancing in the workplace are recommended and safety gear such as masks and gloves may be required to be provided to employees.

Additional considerations as you prepare to return employees to work include applicable wage and hour laws, especially if employees work schedules, pay rates, and classification under state and federal laws. Check out our Return to Work resource hub for FAQs and view this New Jersey-specific webinar we co-hosted with Paychex and Oasis on navigating the state’s workplace for helpful information.

For the latest on what New Jersey businesses should know:

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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. SurePayroll is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, SurePayroll. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. If you require legal or accounting advice or need other professional assistance, you should always consult your licensed attorney, accountant or other tax professional to discuss your particular facts, circumstances and business needs.