Insider NJ

NJCA Statement On Economic Security Legislation For Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Insider NJ — March 19, 2020

Highland Park — New Jersey Citizen Action released the following statement today following the State Legislature's passage of an emergency package of bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The New Jersey Legislature passed two important bills today to shore up the economic security of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dena Mottola Jaborska, New Jersey Citizen Action Associate Director. "Workers face illness, quarantine, the need to practice social distancing, total job loss, reduced hours, and the need to be home to care for kids whose schools are closed. The state must re-envision our Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, Earned Sick and Safe Days Law and Paid Family and Medical Leave program to meet the unprecedented needs of our workers during this crisis, and lawmakers have made some important progress towards that.

"A3846 would allow the Commissioner of the Department of Labor to expand our UI program to be far more inclusive, enabling workers who are now not eligible for the programs, such as the self employed, contract workers, immigrants regardless of status, personal care assistants and domestic workers, to access the program's benefits. The bill would also increase the UI wage replacement to full pay, going well beyond the normal average rate of 60 percent, which will greatly benefit New Jersey workers trying to weather this crisis.

"A3848 gives workers vital job protection, but only to a small fraction of the workers who will need it; those who are sick or possibly exposed to the virus. Many thousands are already without work because their businesses have closed or because kids are home from school. This legislation is an important step forward in this crisis, but we will need to expand job protection so our workforce has jobs to return to when the virus is beaten back.

"We appreciate the Legislature's swift and hard work on these bills, and look forward to working further with both lawmakers and Governor Murphy on policies and legislation that will protect New Jersey workers, our communities' health and the state's economy as the pandemic continues to evolve."

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