Amid growing public frustration with ongoing unemployment delays, New Jersey State Senator Michael Testa, Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan have introduced legislation to help residents get the benefits they have earned.
The bill sponsored by the Legislative District 1 lawmakers would require state employees to work in person if their job requires face-to-face interaction with the public.
“We continue to hear from constituents who have been waiting month after month to get their unemployment payments. Inexcusable delays are taking a toll on families, and in many cases, the problems could be worked out with a face-to-face discussion with a Department of Labor specialist,” said Testa (R-1).
“Trying to settle claims through emails and the online system isn’t cutting it for many thousands of New Jerseyans. It is time to get state workers back at their desks where they can meet face-to-face with claimants and figure things out,” the Senator continued. “People are suffering and they need help.”
The legislators introduced the measure in both houses (S-3749 and A-5614). It requires employees of the labor department and other state agencies to return to work if their jobs require in-person interaction with the public.
“In many cases, showing up in 90 percent of the job,” said McClellan (R-1). “It is unacceptable that state employees who work directly with the public are not back in the office. This is a common sense legislation that will help our state fully re-open and provide the necessary government services our residents deserve.”
Under the bill, agencies would have to announce plans for employees to return to their posts for “the duration of the public health emergency and state of emergency declared on March 9, 2020 by the Governor, pursuant to Executive Order No. 103 of 2020, and as extended.”
“Constantly, we are hearing from countless businesses and families struggling to reach someone from New Jersey’s state departments and agencies,” said Simonsen (R-1). “People need help from the state, and there is nowhere else for them to turn. It’s well past time to return to normal and get state employees who need to be in person back at their desks.”
The Senator noted that the First Legislative District staff has been fully in office since May of 2020.
The bill provides that if a temporary closure of a state agency office is necessary, the head of the agency must provide the public with reasonable alternatives consistent with any federal and State laws.