Trenton – Senators Troy Singleton, Fred Madden, Joseph Lagana and Andrew Zwicker introduced legislation aimed at improving the turnaround time for unemployment claims at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and calling for a conduct performance review of the Division of Unemployment in the NJDOL.
The first bill, S-2379, sponsored by Senator Singleton and Senator Madden, would allocate $50 million to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development from federal assistance to improve the unemployment insurance benefit claims processing capacity of the unemployment insurance program following the spike in benefit claims filings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over one million New Jerseyans were out of work at some point during this pandemic. Even worse, some still have not seen one dollar of their unemployment benefits,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “While no one could have predicted the consequences of this pandemic, the unemployment system is woefully outdated, and the NJDOL staff was simply not plentiful enough to address the full scale of this crisis. We must make this investment in our unemployment system now. The men and women of New Jersey have waited long enough.”
The second bill, S-2380, sponsored by Senator Madden and Senator Singleton, would direct the State Auditor to conduct a performance review audit of the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance in the NJDOL. The audit would include an analysis of the office’s use of federal and State allocated funding, a determination of whether the existing personnel of the office is adequate to meet the statutory mandate of the office and an evaluation of the efficiency of the office’s internal operations.
The third 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).
“There’s been a delay in individuals’ receipt of benefits from the DOL. The time span of that delay could ultimately be the difference for many families and their ability to pay their bills or put food on the table,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill would make sure that individuals are receiving the benefits they’ve filed for and are no longer left with a financial burden because of a delay in their unemployment benefits.”
The final 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 in a timely manner. 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 what we’ve seen occur over the last two years.”