Trenton – The Senate Labor Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden, Joseph Lagana and Andrew Zwicker aimed to improve the turnaround time for unemployment benefits at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and call for a conduct performance review of the Division of Unemployment in the NJDOL.
The first bill, S-2357, sponsored by Senator Madden and Senator Lagana would enforce the timely payment of unemployment compensation benefits.
“This legislation is in response to unacceptable processing delays and wait times at the Department of Labor. It will provide much-needed relief to claimants by expediting and streamlining the determination and appeals process and by providing more options for claimants to speak directly with Department staff to resolve issues,” said Senator Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden), chairman of the Senate Labor Committee.
“In too many cases, there’s been a delay in individuals receiving the unemployment benefits they are owed. These delays could ultimately be the difference for many families and being able to pay their bills or put food on the table,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill would help make sure individuals are receiving the benefits they’ve earned in a timely manner, and help them avoid unnecessary financial burden.”
The second bill, S-2396, sponsored by Senator Madden and Senator Zwicker would provide oversight and improvement of the administration of unemployment compensation.
“By instituting a reporting requirement, legislation in this package also ensures that the legislature as a body can get timely answers from the Department in order to hold its leadership accountable. Unemployment compensation is a system that is meant to help people, and these measures will help the program live up to its purpose,” added Senator Madden.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been a major backlog of unemployment cases at the DOL, resulting in thousands of individuals being left without their benefits for weeks or months at a time. This is simply unacceptable. This legislation is aimed to ensure that this does not continue in the future,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Hunterdon). “We must avoid repeating the breakdowns we’ve seen occur over the last two years.”
Both bills were voted out of committee by votes of 4-0.