As reported by, following the publicity of numerous corrections officers beaten at work, Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to provide sick leave pay to prison workers assaulted by inmates.

Christie signed a bill into law on Monday that will make corrections, juvenile, parole and probation officers whole — albeit on a limited basis — if they were attacked by an inmate while on the job and suffered serious injuries.

Before the governor took action, corrections officers hurt during an inmate attack or riot had to wait until workers’ compensation kicked in to receive any pay as they are not entitled to salary while they are out of work. It could sometimes take several months before an injured officer received any compensation.

“These officers assume a significant deal of risk every day on the job, yet they have been excluded from provisions that make compensation available to other public safety officers,” Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “This new law is about taking action to eliminate that inconsistency so that people who put their lives on the line aren’t left helpless in the event of an attack.”

The corrections officers union has been on a crusade the past two years to highlight the need for sick pay protections for officers by releasing photos of injured employees and documenting attacks.

“Our juvenile justice officers risk limb and life every day while maintaining the peace in dangerous correctional facilities,” PBA Local 105 President Brian Renshaw said last month after highlighting another vicious attack at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Fieldsboro.

Christie conditionally vetoed the sick leave bill in May to place a time limit on how long an employee can received benefits.

Christie amended the bill to limit the supplemental compensation for up to six months for “serious” injuries. The initial pay before the workers’ compensation kicks in will also be limited to six months.

The new legislation will continue to pay officers injured at work as a result of an inmate attack until workers’ compensation is received. Then, the employees will be paid the difference of what workers’ compensation doesn’t cover from their regular salary until they can return to work.

In addition to corrections officers, the bill will cover Human Services police officers, state conservation officers, state park police officers, campus police officers, medical security officers, and civilian jail employees in relation injuries sustained from assaults or apprehensions.

“As it is, a public safety officer who gets attacked on the job essentially is punished for something he or she didn’t do,” Assemblywoman Liz Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) said in a statement. “By ensuring that these officers have financial stability after an attack, we can make it clear that New Jersey supports these vital professions and remove a deterrent to entering or staying in that line of work.”

The bill will take effect in October.

Paid sick leave for correction officers injured on the job had previously been the law of the State up until July of 2011, when they were eliminated by the State legislature. These “SLI” benefits allowed State Correction Officers to receive their full pay for a period of one year following an injury that occurred on duty. While the particulars of the new law remain unclear, based on the Trentonian’s reporting, the new version of the law appears to limit the type of incidents and injuries that qualify for sick leave pay to those stemming from an attack of an officer. Officers will also only be eligible for six months of sick leave payment, rather than the one year limit imposed by the prior conception of the law.

We previously discussed the specifics of SLI benefits as well as common reasons for denial under the predecessor law in a series of blog posts back in June and July of 2008.

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Photo of Michael DeRose Michael DeRose

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey…

Michael P. DeRose is a shareholder at the firm and primarily focuses his practice in labor/ employment law and other aspects of civil litigation, such as contract disputes. He has litigated and tried hundreds of matters before the Superior Court of New Jersey, the Office of Administrative Law and the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission on behalf of various labor unions and their members. Michael has extensive experience defending and fighting for members of law enforcement and other public employees facing adverse disciplinary action, such as termination or suspension from employment. He also frequently argues before New Jersey’s Appellate Division on behalf of his clients.

A large portion of his practice is also devoted to contract negotiations on behalf of union clients, representing such clients in grievance arbitration/ contract disputes, and otherwise advising union leaders on labor and employment matters.  Michael also has significant experience in the realm of interest arbitration on behalf of the firm’s law enforcement and firefighter unions. As a result of the firm’s robust labor and employment practice, Michael regularly appears before various state agencies, such as the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the New Jersey Division of Pensions and Benefits, the State Health Benefits Commission, and NJ PERC. In addition to representing labor unions and active employees, Michael also represents retirees before the Division of Pensions in disability retirement applications, both ordinary and accidental disability retirement, in pension forfeiture actions, and in other miscellaneous pension disputes. He also counsels private business and their principals in contract and employment law, in addition to representing their interests in civil litigation. Michael has a track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for his clients and treats each everyone of them on an individual and particularized basis in accordance with their needs.

Before joining the firm in August of 2015, Michael was an associate counsel at a civil litigation firm out in Trenton, New Jersey, where he principally focused his practice around employment law and tort claims litigation. Prior to that, he served as a law clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey for the Honorable F. Patrick McManimon, Mercer County Vicinage, from September of 2012 to August of 2013, where he attained significant experience in the realm of alternative dispute resolution having mediated well-over one-hundred cases, primarily related to commercial and residential landlord/ tenant disputes and contract/ business litigation. He earned his Juris Doctorate in 2012 after graduating from the Western Michigan University-Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. In 2007, he earned his Bachelor of the Arts in Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Kean University where he was a member of the Kean University baseball team and vice president of the Alpha Phi Sigma chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

Michael is admitted to the New Jersey State Bar, the United States Federal Court for the District of New Jersey, and is a member of the Mercer County Bar Association.