44:10-62 Adult recipient to seek employment.
8. a. As defined by the commissioner, each adult recipient shall continuously and actively seek employment in an effort to remove the assistance unit of which the recipient is a member from the program. A recipient may be assigned to a work activity as determined by the commissioner. The recipient shall sign an individual responsibility plan, as provided in subsection f. of this section, in order to be able to participate in the program, which shall indicate the terms of the work activity requirements that the recipient must fulfill in order to continue to receive benefitS.
b. In accordance with Pub.L.104-193 (42 U.S.C. S.601 et seq.), a recipient in an assistance unit with dependent children shall commence participation in a work activity, self-directed job search or other activities as determined by the commissioner at some time prior to having received 24 months of benefits; except that if the recipient is a full-time post-secondary student in a course of study related to employment as defined by regulation of the commissioner, the recipient shall be required to engage in another work activity for no more than 15 hours a week, subject to the recipient making satisfactory progress toward the completion of the post-secondary course of study as determined by the commissioner.
C. A recipient shall comply with work activity participation requirements as a condition of remaining eligible for benefitS.In accordance with the requirements of Pub.L.104-193 (42 U.S.C. S.601 et seq.), a minimum participation rate of 25% shall be realized in federal fiscal year 1997. The participation rate shall increase by 5% in each federal fiscal year to a level of 50% in federal fiscal year 2002 and thereafter. For two-parent assistance units with dependent children receiving benefits, the participation rate shall be 75% for federal fiscal years 1997 and 1998 and 90% in federal fiscal year 1999 and thereafter. The participation rate shall be calculated in accordance with federal requirementS.A recipient may be required to participate in one or more work activities for a maximum aggregate hourly total of 40 hours per week.
d. A recipient shall not be required to engage in a work activity if child care, including the unavailability of after-school child care for children over six years of age, is unavailable for the recipient’s dependent child, as determined by regulation of the commissioner.
e. A recipient may temporarily be deferred from work activity requirements as provided for by the commissioner if the recipient is:
(1) a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy;
(2) a person certified by an examining legally licensed physician or legally licensed certified nurse midwife, acting within the scope of the practitioner’s profession, to be unable, by reason of a physical or mental defect, disease or impairment, to engage in any gainful occupation for any period less than 12 months; or
(3) the parent or relative of a child under the age of 12 weeks who is providing care for that child, except that, the deferral may be extended for an appropriate period of time if determined to be medically necessary for the parent or child.
f. Upon a determination of eligibility for benefits, each adult recipient not otherwise deferred or exempted under this act shall be given an assessment of that person’s potential and readiness for work, including, but not limited to, skills, education, past work experience and any barriers to securing employment, including a screening and assessment for substance abuse, as appropriate. For all recipients not deferred or exempt, an annual individual responsibility plan shall be developed jointly by the county agency or municipal welfare agency, as appropriate, and the recipient specifying the steps that will be taken by each to assist the recipient to secure employment. The individual responsibility plan shall include specific goals for each adult member or minor parent in the assistance unit, and may include specific goals for a dependent child member of the assistance unit. The goals, as determined by regulation of the commissioner, shall include, but not be limited to, requirements for parental participation in a dependent child’s primary school program, immunizations for a dependent child, and regular school attendance by a dependent child. Recipients who are job ready shall be placed immediately in a self-directed job search. Within the amount of funds allocated by the commissioner for this purpose, other recipients shall be placed in an appropriate work activity as indicated by their individual assessmentS.
g. The county agency or municipal welfare agency, as appropriate, shall ensure the provision of necessary case management for recipients, as appropriate to their degree of job readiness, pursuant to regulations adopted by the commissioner. The most intensive case management shall be directed to those recipients facing the most serious barriers to employment.
h. (1) A recipient shall not be placed or utilized in a position at a particular workplace:
(a) that was previously filled by a regular employee if that position, or a substantially similar position at that workplace, has been made vacant through a demotion, substantial reduction of hours or a layoff of a regular employee in the previous 12 months, or has been eliminated by the employer at any time during the previous 12 months;
(b) in a manner that infringes upon a wage rate or an employment benefit, or violates the contractual overtime provisions of a regular employee at that workplace;
(c) in a manner that violates an existing collective bargaining agreement or a statutory provision that applies to that workplace;
(d) in a manner that supplants or duplicates a position in an existing, approved apprenticeship program;
(e) by or through an employment agency or temporary help service firm as a community work experience or alternative work experience worker;
(f) if there is a contractual or statutory recall right to that position at that workplace; or
(g) if there is an ongoing strike or lockout at that workplace.
(2) A person who believes that he has been adversely affected by a violation of this subsection, or the organization that is duly authorized to represent the collective bargaining unit to which that person belongs, shall be afforded an opportunity to meet with a designee of the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development or the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, as appropriate. The designee shall attempt to resolve the complaint of the alleged violation within 30 days of the date of the request for the meeting. The Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations, shall adopt regulations to effectuate the provisions of this subsection. In the event that the complaint is not resolved within the 30-day period, the complainant may appeal to the New Jersey State Board of Mediation in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for expedited binding arbitration in accordance with the rules of the board. If the arbitrator determines that a violation has occurred, he shall provide an appropriate remedy. The cost of the arbitration shall be borne equally by both parties to the dispute.
(3) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent a collective bargaining agreement from containing additional protections for a regular employee.
i. The commissioner, acting in conjunction with the Commissioners of Banking and Insurance, Community Affairs, Education, Health and Senior Services, Labor and Workforce Development and Transportation, shall implement all elements of the program and establish initiatives to assist in moving recipients towards self-sufficiency.
j. The commissioner shall take such actions as are necessary to ensure that the program meets the requirements to qualify for the maximum amount of federal funds due the State under Pub.L.104-193 (42 U.S.C. S.601 et seq.).
k. The commissioner is authorized to seek such waivers from the federal government as are necessary to accomplish the goals of the program.
L.1997, C. 38, S.8; amended 2009, C. 114, S.3.
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