We have been working with business leaders from across the state to discuss employment issues that affect businesses across all industries. Our organization participated in the recent Hiring Crisis Press Conference, below are the calls to action and next steps for community and business leaders:
- Reinstating statewide communication that “available for work” requirements will be enforced: UI beneficiaries must complete an eligibility form weekly that includes a certification that they are actively seeking employment.
2. Enforce the UI requirements for available for work: Establish a responsive process and NJDOL portal for employers to report violations. There are countless examples of employers reporting fraud and receiving no followup from NJDOL. We understand the system is overwhelmed, but this is critical to holding people accountable and avoiding fraud which will cost our UI fund unsustainable costs.
3. Open NJ’s One Stop Career Centers: Job seekers and employers need better access to reemployment and training support, such as that provided by our One Stop career centers versus an oversubscribed online or call-in system. They make the connections for reemployment and serve as a critical communication tool for job-seekers and employers.
4. Access to childcare: For workers to work, children must be in a safe environment. Not only do we continue to be challenged with hybrid school schedules, but capacity restrictions also exist at our childcare facilities. Getting our children back in school appears to be taking longer, but there is the promise of a full return in the fall. However, in the interim, our parents need better access to childcare now and through the summer. One simple solution is to lift the license restrictions that are still in place affecting capacity at childcare centers.
5. Make use of the seasonal work requirements for youth workers: Youth workers age 14-17 have had employment hours expanded.
6. Take a different approach to the federal UI program: The $300 federal UI payment affords many opportunities to remain on UI and earn the same pay or more than many of the open entry-level positions. While, the program ceases in September, that is too late for our businesses whose peak season is now upon us.
a. Consider a lump sum payment upfront for individuals returning to work now, in order to motivate people to return to work.
b. Provide tax credits to those of us struggling to raise wages in order to be competitive. We have heard of businesses raising their hourly pay. Good for them if they can manage it. But many of us can’t after a year of shutdowns and restrictions, which have left us hanging on by a thread. Paying more, for many of us, could mean dipping into our own personal savings.
7. Asking the state to create a comprehensive Return to Work communications campaign that wraps these ways to empower our workforce’s return into one great package. It will motivate the workforce and create the balance needed in supporting both our businesses and our employees.