Sen. Griffo urging state labor department to get people back to work and help businesses
State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-I-C-Rome, was joined recently by representatives of the local business community at a news conference recently to urge the state Department of Labor to take action to get people back to work and help struggling businesses.
Griffo represents parts of St. Lawrence County in the State Senate.Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals receiving unemployment benefits have collected more money than they were earning at their jobs thanks in part to an enhanced federal benefit providing an additional $300 a week to those who are eligible, Griffo said.
This enhanced benefit has made it difficult for employers to fill open positions and to have employees return to work, said the senator.
Many states have recognized this significant issue and are taking action to address it. More than two dozen have announced that they will end enhanced federal COVID-19 unemployment benefits early. Others are offering one-time financial incentives and payments to unemployed workers who accept a job, Griffo said.
However, in New York, this extra payment is expected to continue through Sept. 5, 2021.
At the news conference, Sen. Griffo offered several suggestions that can help the state address this issue, including dropping the enhanced federal benefit and/or offering financial incentives as other states are doing.
Sen. Griffo also suggested implementing legislation (S6771) he has introduced that would provide an incentive for employees to return to work by having the state subsidize the difference between their pay for work and the amount they were earning while unemployed. This arrangement would only take place during this designated pandemic period, the senator said.
Additionally, Sen. Griffo said that individuals who are offered their old job but refuse it should forfeit their benefits. If someone turns down a job that is comparable to the one that they lost through no fault of their own, they would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.
“From accessibility problems to identify theft to overpayments, the state Department of Labor and the state’s unemployment system has continued to be plagued by issues, challenges and problems during the coronavirus pandemic,” Sen. Griffo said. “While I recognize that COVID-19 has created significant economic hardships for New Yorkers and their families, I believe my legislation will get people back to work, help struggling businesses and companies and save the state money.”