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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

NJ Senate Advances Expanded Parking Lot Bill

The New Jersey Senate Labor Committee voted to release a bill that expands workers' compensation coverage to parking areas provided by an employer.

This bill provides that, for purposes of workers' compensation coverage, if an employer offers or designates a parking area for use by an employee, then employment is deemed to commence when an employee arrives at the parking area prior to reporting for work and terminates when an employee leaves the parking area at the end of a work period. The bill further provides that, if the site of the parking area is separate from the place of employment, an employee will be deemed to be in the course of employment while the employee travels directly from the parking area to the place of employment prior to reporting for work and while the employee travels directly from the place of employment to the parking area at the end of a work period.

NJ Senate Advances Expanded Parking Lot Bill

Currently, the workers' compensation law, R.S.34:15-1 et seq., provides that employment commences when an employee arrives at the place of employment and terminates when an employee leaves the place of employment. The law excludes any travel to or from the place of employment and the site of any parking area, separate from the place of employment, provided by an employer for use by an employee. Therefore, any injury occurring when an employee is traveling between the parking area and the place of employment is not covered by workers' compensation.


This bill provides that an injury occurring at a parking area provided by an employer for use by an employee, or occurring when an employee is traveling directly between the parking area and the place of employment, is a compensable injury covered by the workers' compensation law.


The bill states:

"Employment shall also be deemed to commence, if an employer provides or designates a parking area for use by an employee, when an employee arrives at the parking area prior to reporting for work and shall terminate when an employee leaves the parking area at the end of a work period; provided that, if the site of the parking area is separate from the place of employment, an employee shall be deemed to be in the course of employment while the employee travels directly from the parking area to the place of employment prior to reporting for work and while the employee travels directly from the place of employment to the parking area at the end of a work period."


While NJ Courts have determined that the parking lot provided by the employer is considered to be an extension of the employer's premises, and injuries occurring in the parking lot are held to be within the course of the employment and are therefore compensable, the NJ Supreme Court has restricted the application to only those parking lots and access that to them that is under the direct control of the employer. The NJ Supreme Court in Hersh v. County of Morris has set forth a two part test to determine compensability where an employee has been injured off-premises: (1) Where the situs of the accident was; and (2) Did the employer have control of the property on which the accident occurred.


The fact that an employer directed its employees to park only in certain areas of the parking lot adjoining its building (the most distant areas) resulted in the court's concluding that the parking lot in question was under the employer's control.


The NJ Supreme Court in Hersh v. County of Morris has set forth a two part test to determine compensability where an employee has been injured off-premises: (1) Where the situs of the accident was; and (2) Did the employer have control of the property on which the accident occurred. Hersh v. County of Morris, 217 N.J. 236, 86 A.3d 140 (2014).


The proposed legislation would expand the compensability to areas that include areas not directly under the control of the employer. 


The proposed parking lot law will encourage employers to maintain a safer work environment by having the employers select parking areas for their employees that can be accessed safely.


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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation

Twitter: jongelman

LinkedIn: JonGelman

LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group

Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters