Client Alert – New Jersey Governor Signs Additional Coronavirus/COVID-19 Emergency Related Bills Aimed at Public Employees and Public Contracts

November 12, 2020 in COVID-19 Alerts

On October 30, 2020 and November 9, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed several bills into law relating to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crises. The newly-enacted laws permit modification to contracts between non-profit organizations and State agencies for the failure to perform due to the COVID-19, and address hiring, retention, and benefits of certain public employees during the public health hazard posed by COVID-19. The Governor also vetoed a bill that was aimed at nursing home workers amid the crisis, citing recently introduced measures aimed at direct-care workers at long-term facilities.

S-2451: Allows for the waiver of contract penalties and the modification of contract terms with respect to public contracts between non-profit organizations and State agencies for failure to perform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this legislation, a State agency that has awarded a contract to or entered into an agreement with a non-profit organization may grant a waiver of any penalty provided in the contract or agreement for the failure of the non-profit organization to fulfill the terms and conditions in the contract or agreement if the failure is due to the COVID-19 emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order No. 103 of 2020, and the failure occurred during the period of the emergency or during the six-month period immediately following the end of the emergency.

S-2376: Provides for employment, retention, and benefits during public health hazard posed by COVID-19 of certain public employees. In pertinent part, this legislation allows for the temporary employment of former public employees who retired from the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, or the State Police Retirement System, and are returning to work on a temporary basis in response to the Public Health Emergency or State of Emergency during the Public Health Emergency or State of Emergency declared by the Governor in Executive Order No. 103. The law also permits a public employee to be eligible for participation in the State Health Benefits Program immediately upon hire, provided such person is or was hired as a new employee on or after February 3, 2020 to provide services necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, on November 9, 2020, Governor Murphy vetoed legislation (S-2788/A-4479) aimed at providing supplemental payments to long-term care facility staff providing direct-care services during COVID-19 pandemic. In so doing, the Governor noted that the administration recently introduced measures in September to ensure that direct-care providers at long-term care facilities are appropriately compensated for the critical care they provide.

For more information about the Governor’s newest legislation, please contact Hector D. Ruiz at [email protected] or (973) 757-1019.

Walsh Pizzi O’Reilly Falanga LLP has prepared the content of this alert for general informational purposes. The content should not be considered advice, recommendations, or an offer to perform services. You should not act upon any information provided in this alert without seeking professional legal counsel from an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. No representations are being made as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein.