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Lawmakers consider COBRA benefits for locked-out workers

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Assembly Bill 1056 would establish a Working Family Health Security Fund, which would help finance unemployment health care payments for locked-out workers.
Assembly Bill 1056 would establish a Working Family Health Security Fund, which would help finance unemployment health care payments for locked-out workers. - ()

Lawmakers are reviving an effort to offer state-subsidized unemployment health benefits to locked-out workers.

Under the proposed Assembly Bill 1056, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development would establish a Working Family Health Security Fund, which would help finance unemployment health care payments, known as COBRA, for locked-out workers.

Lock-outs, according to the legislation, are work stoppages stemming from labor disputes that prevent the employee from going to work.

Under the measure, in order to be eligible for COBRA funds the employee would have to have been working for an employer that already offers a health care plan.

A1056 calls for the fund to be financed through a five cent surcharge on employees.

The Assembly Labor Committee approved the measure in a 6-2 vote at their Oct. 18 meeting.

A prior version of the bill, Senate Bill 3275, was approved by the Senate in June 2017 but never taken up for action in the Assembly Labor Committee.

If enacted, it would come alongside a similar measure that Gov. Phil Murphy signed in August to extend jobless benefits to striking workers.

Under that measure, Assembly Bill 3861, workers are allowed access to unemployment compensation during a strike if the labor dispute was caused by the employer’s noncompliance with an agreement or existing labor laws.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz


Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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