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Seasonal Workers Would Not Get Off-Season Unemployment Benefits Under New Legislation

If there is one thing that a seasonal worker knows for sure it is that there will be an off-season. A new bill in the State Legislature would change the law so that seasonal employees would no longer be permitted to collect unemployment checks in their off-season.

NJ seasonal workers could lose unemployment benefits if new bill passes.
Flickr User Runneralan2004

The proposal was recommended by Governor Chris Christie’s Unemployment Insurance Task Force, which is working to achieve long-term fiscal stability of the state’s unemployment insurance fund.

Many local officials, especially those representing shore communities, have endorsed reforming seasonal unemployment insurance.

The measure, co-sponsored by Assembly members Amy Handlin and Sean Kean would eliminate the payment of unemployment benefits to seasonal employees. The state’s Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner would have the authority to designate which industries and occupations are seasonal and determine the length of each season. Seasonal industries would be defined as ones that operate during a regular period of less than 36 weeks per year.

Handlin says, “This bill preserves the unemployment safety net for seasonal workers who lose their job during the season and frees property taxpayers from paying for the year-round benefits when seasonal employees aren’t working. It will make the state’s unemployment insurance fund more secure while eliminating an unnecessary expense for businesses and property taxpayers.”

Dina Long, the Mayor of Sea Bright, says property taxpayers spend thousands of dollars per quarter to pay for unemployment insurance benefits for lifeguards during winter months. She explains, “This is a good government reform that will help ease the local property tax burden in small communities like Sea Bright, where every dollar counts.”

“Individuals who work in a truly seasonal industry know that the work will not continue past a certain time. Therefore, it makes sense to end seasonal workers’ unemployment benefits,” says Kean. “This is a common sense measure that will save taxpayers and help the state’s unemployment insurance fund.”

Handlin says the legislation is not an anti-lifeguard measure.

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WE WANT YOUR COMMENTS: Are you a lifeguard, summer-time bartender, other seasonal worker? Tell us how you feel about this measure in the comment form below. Is this measure good for NJ or will seasonal workers struggle with the unemployment benefit changes?

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