Expands retraining opportunities to unemployed citizens of the state.
BILL NUMBER:S722 REVISED 01/11/12
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the labor law, in relation to expanding eligibility for unemployed workers who would benefit from retraining and increase funding for the provision of extended unemployment insurance benefits
PURPOSE OF BILL: To ensure meaningful opportunities for retraining in a new economy by expanding access to extended unemployment benefits for jobless workers while they are in approved training programs.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill amends Labor Law section 599(1) to expand training opportunities for unemployed workers in the 599 extended benefits program. The Commissioner of Labor may approve training provided by the Workforce Investment Act; the State Departments of Labor, Education, Correctional Services, Health or Mental Health; the Empire State Development Corporation; or the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center. The Commissioner may consider whether the training enables the worker to obtain employment that pays a family sustaining wage. The training may include remedial education needed for the worker's career advancement or completion.
Section 2 of the bill amends Labor Law section 599(2) to allow workers approved for training to access the full 26 weeks of extended benefits if they provide timely notice to the Commissioner. The cap on the use of funds from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund would be increased from $20 million to $50 million.
EXISTING LAW: Labor law section 599 allows workers to receive extended employment benefits while participating in a training program approved by the Commissioner of Labor. The Commissioner must consider whether the training will upgrade the worker's skills or lead to more regular long term employment. The duration of extended benefits may not exceed twice the number of regular benefits the worker is entitled to at the time he or she is approved for training. The current cap on the use of funds from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is $20 million.
JUSTIFICATION: The unemployment insurance program was originally designed for an industrial economy where unemployment mainly resulted from temporary layoffs or furloughs when a factory shut down, due to the possibility that workers were likely to be reemployed in a job requiring the same skills, re-training was not a focus of the original unemployment insurance program.
A greater share of today's unemployed, however, require re-training in order to become gainfully employed. The current unemployment rate for New York State is 7.9%, and 9.1% for New York City. Additionally, the state unemployment rates remain disproportionately high for minorities-15.6% among blacks and 11.7% among Hispanics.
Many of these unemployed workers need new training and education to apply for new positions with employers that require a workforce with upgraded skills to perform in the new economy. The 599 extended benefits program additionally promotes access to training for lower wage workers to upgrade their place in the labor market and helps downsized workers regain their footing in the middle class.
While the state's UI system does not provide funds to pay for training courses, it can address a major problem related to retraining. Numerous jobless workers decide to drop out or do not pursue training or skills upgrading because they need to take a job -- even a substandard one -to support their families and make ends meet. This bill will enable them to continue or enroll in training programs until they obtain the skills needed to secure new jobs. In addition, should Congress decide not to continue granting extensions of unemployment benefits, the 599 program will provide a vital link to unemployed workers so that they secure new jobs more quickly and become re-employed. By continuing the payment of unemployment benefits to workers enrolled in training, the 599 program offers working families a meaningful opportunity to break the cycle of unemployment and under employment.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009: S.2775 Reported to Finance; A.2131 Referred to Labor 2007-08: A.7993 Referred to Labor
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 722 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. PERALTA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Labor AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to expanding eligibility for unemployed workers who would benefit from retraining and increase funding for the provision of extended unemployment insurance benefits THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 599 of the labor law, as amended by chapter 593 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows: S 599. Career and related training; preservation of eligibility. 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, a claimant shall not become ineligible for benefits because of the claimant's regular attendance in a program of training which the commissioner has approved. The commissioner shall give due consideration to existing and prospec- tive conditions of the labor market in the state, taking into account present and anticipated supply and demand regarding the occupation or skill to which the training relates, and to any other relevant factor. A DETERMINATION OF POTENTIAL ELIGIBILITY FOR BENEFITS UNDER THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE ISSUED TO AN UNEMPLOYED INDIVIDUAL IF THE COMMISSIONER FINDS THAT THE TRAINING IS AUTHORIZED BY THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE INVESTMENT ACT, THE DEPARTMENT, THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION, CORRECTION- AL SERVICES, HEALTH, OR THE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH, THE EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, OR THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY CENTER. However, in no event shall the commissioner approve
[such]training for a claimant NOT AUTHORIZED BY SUCH LEGISLATIVE ACT OR STATE OR QUASI-STATE ENTITY LISTED ABOVE unless: (a) (1) the training will upgrade the claimant's existing skill or train the claimant for an occupation likely to lead to more regular long term employment; ENABLE CLAIMANT TO OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT THAT ACHIEVES WAGE PRESERVATION OR MAKES PROGRESS TOWARD A FAMILY-SUSTAINING WAGE; orEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02812-01-1 S. 722 2
(2) employment opportunities for the claimant are or may be substan- tially impaired because of: (i) existing or prospective conditions of the labor market in the locality or in the state or reduced opportunities for employment in the claimant's occupation or skill; or (ii) technological change, plant closing or plant removal, discontin- uance of specific plant operations, or similar reasons; or (iii) limited opportunities for employment throughout the year due to the seasonal nature of the industry in which the claimant is customarily employed; or (iv) the claimant's personal traits such as physical or mental hand- icap; and (b) the training, INCLUDING REMEDIAL EDUCATION WHICH IS INTEGRAL TO CAREER ADVANCEMENT OR REQUIRED FOR COMPLETING CAREER-RELATED TRAINING, relates to an occupation or skill for which there are, or are expected to be in the immediate future, reasonable employment opportunities in the state; and (c) the training is offered by a competent and reliable agency and does not require more than twenty-four months to complete; and (d) the claimant has the required qualifications and aptitudes to complete the training successfully. 2. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a claimant attending an approved training course or program under this section may receive additional benefits of up to one hundred four effective days following exhaustion of regular and, if in effect, any other extended benefits, provided that entitlement to a new benefit claim cannot be established. Certification of continued satisfactory participation and progress in such training course or program must be submitted to the commissioner prior to the payment of any such benefits.
[The duration of such additional benefits shall in no case exceed twice the number of effective days of regular benefits to which the claimant is entitled at the time the claimant is accepted in, or demonstrates application for appropriate training.]ANY UNEMPLOYED INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE BENEFITS PAYABLE UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION, WHO NOTIFIES THE DEPARTMENT WITH THE INTENT TO SEEK TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES UNDER THIS ARTICLE NO LATER THAN THE SIXTEENTH WEEK OF HIS OR HER RECEIVING BENE- FITS, AND IS DETERMINED ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS UNDER THIS ARTICLE, IS ENTITLED TO A TRAINING EXTENSION OF THE FULL ONE HUNDRED FOUR EFFECTIVE DAYS ON HIS OR HER UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION CLAIM, IF NECESSARY, TO COMPLETE APPROVED TRAINING. (b) No more than [twenty]FIFTY million dollars of benefits per year shall be made available for payment to claimants participating in such courses or programs. (c) Participation in such training course or program shall not be limited to any selected areas or localities of the state but subject to the availability of funds, shall be available to any claimant otherwise eligible to participate in training courses or programs pursuant to this section. (d) The additional benefits paid to a claimant shall be charged to the general account. 3. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, a claimant who is in training approved under the federal trade act of nineteen hundred seventy-four shall not be disqualified or become ineligible for benefits because he is in such training or because he left employment which is not suitable employment to enter such training. For purposes hereof, "suitable employment" means work of a substantially equal or higherS. 722 3
skill level than the claimant's past adversely affected employment and for which the remuneration is not less than eighty percent of the claim- ant's average weekly wage. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.