In this update: 1) Work-sharing resources; 2) Unemployment payments (how much you’ll get); 3) Mailings from NJDOL; 4) Mistaken furlough reductions; 5) Health insurance deductions; 6) NJDOL calls to those who have to apply by phone; 7) Unemployment fraud victims; 8) Problems creating a new account; 9) Work-sharing loan program; 10) Follow-up emails from NJDOL; and 11) Setting up direct deposit.
Thank you for your patience as we work through this process together. Some of you received payments from the New Jersey unemployment system yesterday, so our work-sharing program is now fully underway! We have more work to do to solve problems for faculty who are still waiting for approval or to get into the system, but we are working with University Human Resources (UHR) and the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) to address these as quickly as possible. We know how frustrating it has been dealing with a confusing system, so we thank you for your understanding and persistence.
Now, onto your questions—there are a lot of them!:
1. Work-Sharing Resources
Here are some helpful resources for work-sharing participants:
- Unemployment Filing Instructions
- Instructions for Checking Your Claim Status
- Communications You May Receive from NJDOL (and What to Do with Them)
- Crucial Information for Faculty Who Applied for Unemployment by Phone
- Instructions for Selecting Direct Deposit
- Union Form to Report Problems with Applying
2. Your Unemployment Payments ($73? $731? Too Little? Too Much?)
The New Jersey unemployment system pays recipients 80 percent of their salaries up to a cap of $731 per week (anyone making about $62,000 a year and up is at the cap). But remember that we are getting payments for a 10 percent furlough, so we only get 10 percent of that amount. All of us in work-sharing will receive close to the maximum each week (between $60 and $73). At first, you may see the much larger amount on NJDOL forms, as if you were 100 percent unemployed. But that figure will eventually be updated to reflect the 10 percent furlough.
Additionally, everyone will get a separate $300-a-week payment from the federal unemployment system. You automatically get the federal unemployment supplement if you are approved by NJDOL. According to UHR, this payment typically starts coming a week or two later than the state system payments (and via the same payment method), but you will get the federal supplement for the full duration of the program.
If you want to compare your unemployment payments with how much has been taken out of your biweekly paycheck because of furloughs, remember that you are getting two unemployment payments weekly—so double them to compare with your furlough reduction. This furlough estimator on the UHR website will show the effect on your biweekly paycheck.
3. What’s in the Mailings from NJDOL
When your unemployment claim is approved, you will get a standard mailing from NJDOL to your home address. This is good news—you will start receiving payments in the coming weeks. Some of the forms you get have information that is confusing and inaccurate, but you shouldn’t worry about these forms. No action is required. UHR has a detailed list of communications you might receive from NJDOL and whether any action is required.
If you receive any communication telling you to certify weekly for continued unemployment payments or to set up appointments to certify, ignore them. This does not apply to us. Once we are approved, we will receive our payments for the duration of the program without any further contact with NJDOL. We are not unemployed, so we don’t have to certify weekly that we don’t have a job and are actively looking for work.
4. Unexpected Furlough Reduction in Your Paycheck
Some of you who know you are exempt from the work-sharing program found a “furlough reduction” in your paycheck this week. You should immediately email UHR at [email protected] and explain why you are exempt. If you can check with colleagues in your department and send an email that identifies the problem for multiple people, that’s even better!
You will be reimbursed for lost pay in your next paycheck (or, if it turns out you are a participant after all, UHR will help you get into the unemployment system, and you will get all the payments for the duration of the program, retroactive to the start date last week).
5. Medical/Dental/Prescription Deductions during Furloughs
Your first paycheck reflecting furloughs will not have the typical deduction for medical, dental, and prescription drugs. This is because these deductions are made only twice a month, and by a quirk of the calendar, the first paycheck to reflect furloughs was the third paycheck of April. Rest assured that your health insurance is not affected by work-sharing or furloughs.
6. Out-of-State Faculty or NJ Residents without State ID Who Had to Apply by Phone
Last week, NJDOL began calling faculty from a list of work-sharing participants who had to apply by phone because they don’t have a New Jersey driver’s license or state ID. After a rocky first day, many people who were able to pick up the phone for these calls reported that the agents were informed about our work-sharing program and told them at the end of the conversation that their claims would be approved and to await the standard mailing.
Unfortunately, a number of you missed the calls last week or didn’t get one at all. We don’t know for sure when NJDOL will continue making calls to people they didn’t contact on the first round. We do know that those of you who are New Jersey residents but who have to apply by phone because you don’t have a state ID were disproportionately among those not called because NJDOL was working its way through the out-of-state faculty list first.
We ask for your patience, because it will take some time to make sure you all speak to an agent. We assure you, though, that we will work with the state until all these cases are addressed.
Remember our advice from last week: 1) Stay on the lookout for calls from NJDOL (the calls may come from unknown or blocked numbers); 2) Pick up the phone if you possibly can, answer the agent’s questions, and ignore any misstatements about whether you’re eligible or need to certify; and 3) If you are concerned about giving personal information over the phone, ask the agent for the procedure to confirm they work for NJDOL.
If you haven’t received a call at all (check your voice messages and recent calls for numbers you don’t recognize), look up what phone numbers you have listed at your myRutgers portal. These are the numbers that UHR put on the list that was submitted to NJDOL. If you find an old one, please change the number in the portal—and also email UHR at [email protected] right away so they can submit the correct phone number.
7. Victims of Unemployment Fraud
Many of the dozens of work-sharing participants who are known victims of unemployment fraud got similar calls from NJDOL agents, who verified a couple pieces of information and told them their claims had been filed. Fraud victims have had this difficult problem looming over them for far too long, but NJDOL seems to be clearing it up.
Unfortunately, like for out-of-state faculty or those without a New Jersey ID, not everyone was able to speak to an NJDOL agent. What we said above applies to you, too: 1) Stay on the lookout for calls from NJDOL; 2) Pick up these calls if you possibly can and answer the agent’s questions; and 3) Remember you can ask the agent to verify that they work for NJDOL.
8. Problems Creating a New Account
This is one of the knottiest problems of the work-sharing program: some of you who could apply online are still having problems completing the application because you can’t set up a new account. In some cases, this is a computer issue, so you should try again, using a different browser.
But that hasn’t worked for a lot of people. You need to get your information to UHR, so they can put your name and information on a list of people that NJDOL needs to clear up. You can email UHR at [email protected]. Give as much information as you can remember about the problems you encountered, including where in the process you were prevented from applying and what error message you saw (put the main error message in the subject line).
We know a lot of you have already emailed UHR, but their inbox is even fuller than ours, so please be patient. If you’ve emailed a number of times and still haven’t gotten a response, email us at [email protected], and we can try to make sure your case has been seen.
Once UHR has your name on the list, NJDOL is going to need some time to go through each case. We are thankful for your patience. And remember: you won’t be penalized if it takes you longer to finish applying. Once you are approved, you will get all the payments for the full duration of the work-sharing program, retroactive to the start date last week.
9. The Union’s Work-Sharing Loan Program
We know that the 10 percent reduction in your paycheck will be hard to deal with if the payments from unemployment are delayed. The union has set up a Work-Sharing Loan Program for members who are suffering short-term financial problems. The loan program requires you to fill out a simple Google form to start the process. Please email us at [email protected] if you would like access to the form.
The Loan Committee will review the application for approval, and if required, we will reach out to you for more information. The loan amount would be a paycheck completion sum to recover the 10 percent of your paycheck missing due to furloughs. Once approved, we’ll send over our loan agreement and rules, and we can work together on getting your funds to you as quickly as possible.
10. Follow-up Emails from NJDOL (You Should NOT Ignore These)
Some of you received emails from NJDOL—marked “E-adjudication” or indicating that there are “Unresolved Issues on your Claim”—that ask you to complete a form. This is a routine email that indicates NJDOL thinks you answered a question incorrectly. You need to complete the form linked in the email and indicate if you answered a question inaccurately.
These “unresolved issues” are usually the result of people making a mistake with questions on the standard unemployment form that don’t make sense in our situation. These questions are meant for people who have lost employment, not people in a work-sharing program. If you keep this in mind, it will help you answer the questions correctly. Here are a few questions that we know faculty have had problems with:
- Are you able and willing to work full time? (please answer “yes”)
- Do you expect to be recalled by this employer? (please answer “no”)
- Are you receiving benefits from a pension or retirement fund (unless you are getting a pension from another institution, please answer “no”; some of you were mixed up because you are contributing to a retirement fund, but you are not receiving benefits from it).
Have the UHR instructions on filing for unemployment handy to help you answer the questions. Unfortunately, though, the follow-up forms from NJDOL ask for some of the same information from the original application, but with different wording. Here is some information you may need for these follow-up questionnaires:
- Employer address: Rutgers University NJ, c/o Corporate Cost Control, P.O. Box 1180, Londonderry, NH 03053
- Employer phone number: (800) 207-6926
- Last day physically worked with employer: 04/17/2021
- Date of separation from employer: 04/17/2021
- Your rate of pay: This is the gross earnings for the last 12 months that the UHR instructions tell you to gather from your myRutgers portal.
- Type of pay: Annual
- Reason for separation: Select “Other” and enter: “Hours reduced—COVID-19-related”
- Please explain why you were separated from your job: Hours reduced—COVID-19-related
11. Selecting Direct Deposit for Your Unemployment Payments
NJDOL agents are not allowed to take bank information over the phone, so if you are getting a call about your claim because you don’t have a New Jersey state ID, you will have to follow some other instructions to select direct deposit for your unemployment payments.
Click here to see the instructions for creating a four-digit PIN (different from the one you may have created when you first applied), creating a new account, and changing the payment method. We recommend you do step 2 (creating a PIN) through the Interactive Voice Response system. Please note that you can only take certain steps in the instructions on certain days, depending on digits in your Social Security number—and that you have to wait a day after creating your PIN to follow the last step in selecting direct deposit.
Our list of answers to your questions is getting longer and longer! But that’s a sign of progress; more of you are getting through the program. We thank you again for your patience in dealing with the frustrations and uncertainty. If you haven’t found all the information you need here, email us at [email protected].
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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