On March 9, 2020, Governor Philip D. Murphy signed Executive Order No. 103 (EO-103) in response to the Coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) invoking “a State of Emergency pursuant to N.J.S.A. App. A:9-33 et seq. and a Public Health Emergency as contemplated by N.J.S.A. 26:13-1 et seq.” Executive Order No. 103 further prohibits any political subdivision of the State, including counties and municipalities, from enforcing any “rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution, which will or might in any way, conflict with any of the provisions of the Orders, or which will in any way interfere with or impede the achievement of the purpose of the Orders.”

In furtherance of Executive Order No. 103, on March 10, 2020, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (“CSC”) adopted “Guidelines For State Employee Leave Time And Staffing – COVID-19.” (“CSC Guidelines”) While the CSC Guidelines are not directly applicable to County and Municipal employees, they are meant to offer guidance to local employers regarding implementing effective steps to manage the shared responsibility to protect the health and well-being of New Jersey residents.  While not mandated, and in an effort to seek guidance in the development of policies and procedures concerning COVID-19, most counties and municipalities are either abiding by the CSC Guidelines or utilizing them as guidance in implementing their own policies and procedures.

On March 16, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 104 (EO-104).  EO-104 mandates that all public, private, and parochial preschool program premises, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall be closed to students beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and shall remain closed as long as EO-104 remains in effect. While EO-104 is greatly needed to suppress the spread of COVID-19, the closing of New Jersey’s schools has placed great stress upon thousands of families throughout our State.  As a result of these school closures, many First Responders like other parents in our State, are currently experiencing child care issues or will experience child care issues in the immediate future. Rest assured, no one expected that such a drastic, statewide response would be needed to stop the spread of this world-wide pandemic and, as a result, no one has had ample time to put plans into place to adequately cope with such a situation.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, nowhere, within EO-103, EO-104 or the CSC Guidelines does it state that First Responders are excluded from the orders and that the rules and regulations have no applicability to their urgent familial needs.  To the contrary, the CSC Guidelines state : “Government operations need flexibility to address staffing capabilities to ensure essential operational needs are met.  Similarly, employees require greater latitude in applicable leave time procedures to prevent further spread of the virus and to prioritize their health and the health of their immediate family members.”

Unfortunately we have encountered some public employers that have taken an extremely inflexible position in granting First Responders time off from work to address unexpected and unplanned child care needs.  Such a position not only violates the legal provisions espoused in Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders, but also dismisses the cooperative effort that is needed between labor and management in these most difficult times.  Instead of enacting policies that have no concern for the personal and familial needs of First Responders, employers are urged to sit with Union Leadership in an effort to develop a Continuity of Operations Plans (COOPs) that will ensure that essential services are delivered while being mindful of our First Responders human and familial needs.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.