New Jersey Employers Urged to Keep Workers On Payroll During COVID-19 Crisis

As unemployment numbers continue to rise at record rates, businesses in New Jersey are being encouraged to keep employees on payroll throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to take advantage of a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

From March 22 to March 28, New Jerseyans filed 205,515 applications, compared to 155,815 the previous week, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released April 2. In 2019, residents filed 6,894 applications that week. 

The trend continued nationwide, as a record 6.6 million applied for benefits, topping the previous week’s record 3.3 million unemployment claims.

Hours Cut

Following Gov. Phil Murphy’s order to close all non-essential businesses to reduce the spread of coronavirus, many workers in New Jersey have seen their hours cut or their jobs completely eliminated.

Under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, starting April 1, employers that keep employees on their payroll will receive a “100% dollar-for-dollar payroll tax credit.”

The payroll tax credit “immediately and fully reimburses employers with fewer than 500 employees by allowing them to reduce their federal payroll taxes by the amount they spent on emergency leave,” according to the state Department of Labor.

Employers Urged To ‘Do The Right Thing’

“We cannot urge employers enough to keep your workers on payroll throughout this crisis and allow them to benefit from the expanded paid sick and family leave programs made possible by the recently-enacted federal response bills,” Murphy said. “If you do, you will be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar payroll tax credit against those costs.”

“Again, I urge you to do the right thing and keep your employees on payroll throughout this crisis so we can deliver them peace of mind and so we can get our economy going that much faster when this emergency ends,” the governor said.

Under the act’s federal paid sick leave program, an employee is entitled to 80 hours (up to two weeks) of paid leave. Under the act’s expanded Family and Medical Leave program, an employee is entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, the first two weeks of which are unpaid, and the remaining 10 weeks of which are paid.

In a press release, Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said, “Gov. Murphy and his administration is working around the clock to make sure that working families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are supported, but we cannot do this job alone. That is why we are calling on the business community to join us in supporting working families as one New Jersey family.”

Unemployment Benefits Increased

On March 31, state officials announced that workers who are eligible for unemployment insurance will receive an additional $600 per week through July 31 as a result of the $2 trillion federal relief bill passed last week.

Murphy said, “This money should arrive, I believe, starting next week for those already collecting unemployment. For those of you who just filed, it will take a little longer, but the department is working overtime to process all of your claims and we ask for your patience due to the record volumes with which they are dealing.”

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