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Turner/Madden Bills To Adjust Temporary Disability Benefit Contribution, Refine Unemployment Benefit Instructions Signed Into Law

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON � Legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) and Fred Madden (D-Gloucester, Camden) that will reduce the amount of money employees pay into the Temporary Disability Insurance fund and refine unemployment benefit instructions have been signed into law.

The first new law (S-2609) will require the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, beginning in 2012, to make annual adjustments in the rate of contribution paid by workers into the Temporary Disability Insurance fund. This move will ensure that the amount people pay into the system is actually linked to its needs.

�The Temporary Disability Insurance fund will begin running a surplus by 2013 and be adequately funded,� said Turner. �It makes sense then that we should reduce the amount of money that we collect from workers. The tax reduction will result in workers� bringing home additional pay, giving them more disposable income to help stimulate our state�s economy.�

�Public and private workers use temporary disability benefit funds, so this bill will be a big step forward in alleviating the cost of them doing so. It is a simple, efficient measure to put money back in the pockets of working residents,� said Madden, chair of the Senate Labor Committee.

Over the past 16 years, a total of $773 million in funds that workers paid into Temporary Disability Insurance has been diverted to help balance the state budget. Last November, voters approved a state constitutional amendment to ensure that assessments on employee wages by the state be dedicated to the payment of employee benefits, and not diverted for other purposes.

The second law (S-2580) will require employers to include information detailing the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits in the instructions that they must provide to a worker who becomes unemployed. Previously, the law only required the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide unemployment filing instructions to employers, who by law are required to supply the information to employees. The Department�s information, however, did not include details about the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits.

�Filing an unemployment claim should not be a harrowing experience that discourages people from making claims,� said Senator Turner. �Individuals who have lost their jobs need these benefits to support themselves and their families. Making the filing process easier is one small way to better assist those who have been unfortunate enough to lose their job.�

�The least we can do for those who have lost their jobs is provide a simpler process for them to go about receiving their unemployment benefits. It is not only important that these individuals are able to make claims so they can support themselves, but the money also goes right back into the economy,� said Madden.

Specifically, the law requires that the benefit instructions given to a worker include the date upon which the worker will become unemployed, and, in the case that the unemployment is temporary, the date upon which the worker is recalled to work, and that the individual may lose some or all of the benefit to which he or she is entitled if he or she fails to file a claim in a timely manner.

Finally, the law will require each employer to give each worker at the time he/she becomes unemployed, for any reason, whether the unemployment is permanent or temporary, a printed copy of the benefit instructions.

The law takes effect immediately.

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