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Sweeney, O’Scanlon & Doherty Bill Allowing Reassignment of Public Workers During Crises Advances

Trenton – Legislation authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Senator Michael Doherty allowing for the temporary reassignment of state and local employees outside of their job classifications for up to 30 days during public emergencies was approved by the Senate today.

The bill, S-2477, would allow available civil servants to assist departments handling additional workload which arises as a result of a disaster or other event triggered by a state of emergency. The temporary redeployment would be for the sole purpose of responding to the crisis. All the rights and benefits of the employees would be protected, including seniority, salary steps and job classifications, under the legislation.

“We recognize the impact the COVID crisis is having on the state’s ability to respond in a timely way to the emergent needs of the public and want to do what we can to improve the effectiveness of services, especially unemployment benefits,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “They have been overwhelmed with an avalanche of claims from those who are in immediate need of the benefits. We need all hands on deck to respond as quickly as possible.”

“There is no doubt that one of the most vital needs is making sure that unemployment benefits are distributed as quickly as possible to the millions of people who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods to a health emergency that struck with little warning,” said Senator O’Scanlon (R-13). “We are now experiencing the most severe levels of unemployment since the Great Recession. It’s imperative that we have the flexibility to put our valued State workers to use where they are needed most to help New Jerseyans.”

“We know that the public workers who are responsible for providing vital services are working tirelessly, but they need additional support to get the job done,” said Senator Doherty (R-23). “We have faith in the willingness and ability of other State workers to step up and help meet the needs of more than one million New Jerseyans in the unemployment benefits system. This legislation will allow them to do just that.”

New Jersey is currently twelfth in the nation for unemployment applications per capita. From mid-March to April 25, there were 930,000 applications according to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

The bill, approved with a vote of 40-0, would not apply to an employee holding a public safety title and job assignment.

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