(TRENTON) – With the goal to protect jobs for New Jersey workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the full Assembly on Thursday voted 51-25-2 to advance legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro (D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) to establish a voluntary job-sharing program. The measure also passed the Senate 23-16 and now goes to the Governor’s desk.
The bill (A-4132) would establish the Employee Job-Sharing Furlough Protection Act to provide eligible employers guidance on how to participate in a shared work program as permitted under New Jersey law. Under the program, employers could reduce hours for a group of workers, and those workers may be eligible for short-term unemployment benefits for their lost hours of work. Workers could continue to receive health insurance, pension coverage and other benefits.
“Shared work programs save jobs, plain and simple,” said Taliaferro. “During these incredibly difficult times, we want as many people to keep their jobs as possible. Participating in a shared work program is a viable way for employers to avoid layoffs, and for workers to continue to receive benefits as we work toward economic recovery.”
“In all this uncertainty, we want to give workers reassurance that their jobs, health insurance and retirement plans are safe,” said Downey. “At the same time, we understand that employers are facing unprecedented challenges. The job-sharing program created under this bill will help more workers keep their jobs and businesses continue to operate.”
Additionally, the measure addresses employees of education institutions, who under current law may not receive UI benefits when unemployed during a holiday or break between successive academic terms, including the summer, even if the institution is in session. The measure would provide that employees who are laid off in the summer may receive benefits even if the institution is in session during the summer, among other protections.
The bill would be effective immediately after enactment.