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Turner/Madden Legislation Refining Unemployment Benefit Instructions/Adjusting Temporary Disability Benefit Contribution Rates Clear Senate

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

TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) and Fred Madden (D-Gloucester, Camden) were passed by the full Senate today. The first would refine unemployment benefit instructions. The second reduces the amount of money employees pay into the Temporary Disability Insurance fund.

The first bill, S2580, would require employers to include information detailing the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits in the unemployment benefit instructions that they must provide to a worker at the time the worker becomes unemployed. Currently, the law requires 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, does not include detailed information about the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits.

“Individuals stuck in unemployment are facing difficult circumstances as is. There is no reason government needs to complicate it even more. That is why it is important we make these simple, common sense changes,” said Madden, chair of Senate Labor Committee.

Specifically, the legislation would require that the benefit instructions given to the worker include, but not be limited to, the date upon which the worker becomes 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 bill would 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 second bill, (S2609) would 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.

“Given the difficult economic times, it is important that we provide working families with as much disposable income as possible,” said Turner. “The Temporary Disability Insurance Fund will be running a surplus by 2013, so by reducing the amount employees pay in, we are doing just that.”

“In a state where everything is too highly priced, it is nice when government can actually give money back to the people of New Jersey. By reducing the amount of money collected, we are providing a much needed break for both public and private workers,” said Madden.

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 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.

Both bills now head to the governor’s desk.

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