Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday that will allow public employees to return to work in New Jersey to help fight the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the state without any implications related to pensions.
“We need to remove any roadblocks that can keep them from service,” Murphy said at the Trenton War Memorial during his daily coronavirus press briefing. “Right now we need all the experienced help we can get whether it be retired law enforcement officers returning to duty or nurses who return to University Hospital or folks who can help staff the labor departments."
The governor made the announcement on the same day he reported New Jersey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased to 1,003, while its total COVID-19 positive tests jumped to at least 41,090.
According to the executive order, “For the duration of this emergency, retirees may return to employment by government agencies in any capacity, including but not limited to full-time employee, part-time employee, or special law enforcement officer, without having to re-enroll in any retirement system, if the following conditions are met: A. The retiree has retired before the date of this Order; and B. The retiree has completed at least a thirty-day separation from their employer, from the date of retirement or the date of Board approval, whichever is later; and C.The retiree’s return to employment is needed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
On Saturday, Murphy announced the state’s death toll from the virus already surpassed the number of New Jersey residents who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The governor also warned Sunday New Jersey’s battle against the coronavirus will get worse before things get better and that the state should brace for what will be “a really challenging” couple of weeks ahead. Murphy and state officials had spent the better part of Sunday “trying to get our arms around” when the state could expect to hit the apex in the number of positive cases and the number of people reported having died each day from COVID-19.
He also said the effects of the pandemic will “spill meaningfully into the summer.”