By John Whittaker for Observer Today
Bills have been introduced in the state Legislature to create an $800 million unemployment program for excluded workers.
Sponsored by Sen. Jessica Ramos, D-Jackson Heights, and Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, D-Bronx, S.8165/A.9037 would amend the state Labor Law to create an Excluded Workers Fund for workers who are left out of traditional worker services, including unemployment.
To be eligible, workers must not have received any unemployment benefits within 12 months of application or not have received an error payment when they were previously ineligible for benefits. Workers would also have to show they have provided a service in the past for which they were paid in cash, personal check or non-payroll check; did not report the wages to the IRS; not received a wage statement from the employer; and did not not receive a Form 1099-NEC.
Ramos and Reyes say those benefiting would include domestic workers, landscaping and groundskeeping workers, day laborers, construction workers and street vendors. Many of the same workers were able to claim $15,600 from the state’s $2.1 billion Excluded Worker Fund in the 2021-22 budget. Money from the fund was claimed by some 290,000 workers, Reyes and Ramos wrote in their legislative justification, and the fund quickly ran out.