The New Jersey Department of Labor released new guidance on employees who quit their jobs or refuse to return to work out of fear that their working conditions are “unsafe, unhealthful, or dangerous.”

Existing case law limits the availability of UI when an employee quits his or her job.  The working conditions must have been so intolerable that the claimant had “no choice but to leave the employment.” 

DOL guidance specific to the COVID-19 pandemic identifies the factors the Department will consider in determining whether conditions were so “unsafe, unhealthful, or dangerous” that the employee had “no choice” but to quit.  The factors include but are not limited to, compliance with applicable guidance from CDC, OSHA, NJDOL and other state agencies, industry associations, and the Governor’s EOs.  They also include other factors like offering employees options to work from home, providing “extra handwashing stations and break time for handwashing.”  Similar guidance applies to claimants who have refused available work due to perceived unsafe working conditions.