By: Grayson Moronta, Glenn Smith, and Howard Wexler

Seyfarth Synopsis: On April 24, 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, signed A4772/S3215, which addresses unemployment insurance (“UI”) benefits for workers during labor disputes, including strikes.

A4772/S3215 (the “Bill”) amends existing law, now allowing UI benefits to be distributed to workers during an employer lockout even if a strike did not immediately precede the lockout. The Bill also decreases the timeframe from 30 days to 14 days following a strike that UI benefits are disqualified, while allowing for benefits to be paid immediately regardless of the timeframe if replacement workers are hired on either a permanent or temporary basis. Finally, the Bill clarifies that there is no disqualification if an issue in the labor dispute is the failure of the employer to comply with an agreement between the parties.

Governor Murphy stated that unemployment benefits  “should be a universal right for individuals who have recently lost their jobs, are unable to find work, or are currently in the middle of a labor dispute[.]” Labor unions have praised the Bill’s signing. Charlie Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO stated that “[g]oing on strike is a very difficult decision, but it is sometimes necessary when workers are pushed to their limits. This law will help ease that financial hardship, and we applaud Gov. Murphy for standing with working people and enacting this legislation.”

The Bill took effect immediately and will apply to all UI benefit claims filed on or after January 1, 2022.