NJBIA came out in support of legislation today to partially furlough public workers and allow their salaries to be supplemented by enhanced unemployment benefits, as it will help the state save money in challenging times.
While NJBIA initially had reservations about the bill, S-2350, due to the inclusion of an unrelated provision that would have altered the family leave law, the legislation was amended by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee to remove that provision.
“We thank the bill’s sponsors for their pursuit of state budget savings and their efforts to avoid complicating this legislation with private sector labor mandates that would hurt small business,” said NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Christopher Emigholz.
The Employee Job-Sharing Furlough Protection Act (Sweeney, D-3; Pou, D-35), which was unanimously approved by the committee, allows state and local governments to save hundreds of millions of dollars by requiring public workers to see their hours reduced through furloughs – although many workers would still be able to collect payments exceeding their normal wages because of the recent expansion of unemployment benefits.
NJBIA had opposed a provision of the legislation that removed small business family leave protections for employers with fewer than 30 employees. Under existing law, small employers with fewer than 30 employees are not required to reinstate someone to the same position after they return from taking a leave.
“It would not have been possible for very small businesses with only a few employees to avoid making adjustments to their small workforce during and after an employee is on family leave,” Emigholz said.
Emigholz also asked the committee to amend the legislation’s provisions regarding unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to clarify the changes apply only during the COVID-19 crisis, so that New Jersey’s unemployment insurance fund can recover more quickly. That amendment was also made.
“With these provisions removed, we support this furlough bill as it is one of the only initiatives made public thus far to reduce spending in the state budget,” he added.