In order to codify and expand on one of the Governor’s executive orders aimed at bolstering the state’s workforce during the ongoing pandemic, three Assembly Democrats sponsor a bill permitting retired public employees to return to work and assist New Jersey in its COVID-19 efforts. After previously passing the Senate by a vote of 39-0, the legislation unanimously passed the full Assembly Thursday and will now head to the Governor.
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:
“Our state is facing an ongoing crisis like no other and we need all the help we can get. This will be especially true if/when we begin to see a second wave of COVID-19 cases that many experts have predicted.
“With a considerable need to enforce important health and safety mandates, coordinate healthcare efforts and address various backlogs and caseloads, it’s all hands on deck. Experienced public employees have been asked to return to their former workplaces to help current employees deal with an influx of work resulting from the pandemic.
“This legislation paves the way for retired public employees 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.”