Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that makes changes to the administration of the state’s unemployment insurance system to increase efficiency and expedite timely payments of benefits to people who have lost their jobs.
“This law is a forceful response to the unacceptable processing delays and wait times that plagued the Department of Labor during a critical time of high unemployment during the coronavirus crisis,” said Senator Fred Madden (D-4), the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee and a sponsor of the legislation.
The governor had issued a conditional veto to an earlier version of S-2357, recommending changes in the bill to ensure compliance with federal law. The Legislature recently concurred with those changes and the governor announced he had signed the legislation into law Thursday evening.
NJBIA supported the legislation because it also sought to eliminate confusion and help employers by requiring DOL to provide clear, detailed directions to businesses on their role in the filing process for UI claims.
NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Christopher Emigholz said it was good that UI system upgrades will be made to ensure benefits will be received by claimants in a timely manner but expressed concern for employers who still have not been given relief from the $1 billion increase in their collective unemployment insurance taxes.
“Employers are now putting even more money into the unemployment insurance system because of the prolonged state-mandated business shutdowns that occurred during the pandemic that put so many people out of work,” Emigholz said. “This happened through no fault of the businesses themselves, but they are being penalized.”
Emigholz urged state leaders to allocate funding that would scale back the UI tax increases on businesses.
The DOL distributed $37 billion to more than 2 million unemployed workers during the pandemic.