In order to codify and expand on one of the Governor’s recent executive orders aimed at bolstering the state’s workforce during the current public health crisis, three Assembly Democrats sponsor a bill permitting retired public employees to return to work and assist New Jersey in its ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The legislation passed the full Assembly Monday, 80-0, and now heads to the Senate.
Under the bill (A-3914) certain former public employees, including police officers and firefighters, would be permitted to return to work as temporary employees without having to re-enroll in the pension system. These temporary workers would also be eligible for the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) or be allowed to retain health coverage under the state’s retiree benefits program if applicable.
The legislation further allows exceptions to usual law enforcement policies during the public health emergency, including waiving the mandatory retirement age for officers, to make sure police departments have enough staff to assist during this crisis.
Upon the bill’s passage, Assembly sponsors Adam Taliaferro (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem), Bill Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) issued the following joint statement:
“Right now our state is facing a crisis like no other and we need all the help we can get. Experienced public employees are being asked to return to their former workplaces to help current employees deal with an influx of work resulting from the pandemic.
“Hundreds of thousands of residents need their unemployment applications processed – a number greater than even during the Great Depression; police officers need to enforce social distancing mandates to make sure the virus does not continue to spread throughout our population; the Department of Health needs knowledgeable employees to help coordinate the healthcare efforts of the state; and so on.
“This legislation paves the way for retired public employee to join in our efforts to combat COVID-19 and take care of our residents during this time by making sure retirement benefits are not affected and necessary exceptions are made to certain standard procedures.
“We want to thank every public employee who answers the call to help our state get through this challenging time.”