Atlantic City casinos employ a significant portion of the city’s population. For New Jersey casino workers, the temporary shuttering of those facilities means troubled times.
The state has provisions for this situation, however. In fact, New Jersey has some of the best protection for workers in the United States.
Info on unemployment for New Jersey casino workers
Included in that protection is a great paid sick leave (PSL) mandate for employers. Because of that, many casino workers likely had a balance of PSL when the casinos shuttered.
State law allows you to use that PSL while the casinos aren’t operating. If you don’t have any such time banked, you aren’t out of options, however.
New federal guidelines have given states additional flexibility with unemployment insurance programs. Your employer pays into this system on a state-by-state basis, so those funds are reserved for you, and the amount depends on how long you have worked for a New Jersey company.
Individual states administer their own employment programs. You cannot file a claim with the federal government; you must file with the New Jersey Division of Unemployment Insurance.
New Jersey has suspended its usual requirement for recipients to report and search for work in this instance. The state is keenly aware of the situation.
If you have accrued paid sick leave from your employer, you must exhaust that before you can apply for unemployment. You should be able to find how much PSL you have on your most recent pay stub.
To use that in this situation, contact your employer’s human resources department. There are some other things you will need to know if you plan to file an unemployment claim.
How do I know whether I qualify for unemployment benefits?
If you have no accrued PSL or once you are about to exhaust it, you can see whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits in New Jersey. There are a few qualifications.
If you performed contract work for a casino, you might not be eligible. If you filled out a W-9 when the casino hired you, you should be eligible.
You must also be a legal resident of New Jersey. If your legal residence is in another state, you will need to file a claim with that state, even if your employer is in New Jersey.
Your employer must be a company that has paid into the New Jersey system on your behalf. New Jersey casino workers shouldn’t have to worry about this requirement.
Under normal circumstances, there is a length of time you must have worked for at least one New Jersey company to be eligible. The aforementioned federal guidelines may give the state more room to maneuver, however, so you might still be eligible even if the casino recently hired you.
If you’re still working but have had your hours or salary reduced, you might even qualify for partial benefits to help you make up the difference. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re receiving less than 80% of your regular pay, you might qualify.
For any reason, if you’re uncertain about whether you qualify, the best thing to do is file a claim as soon as you can. That will allow the state to ascertain your individual case.
What do I need to file a claim online in New Jersey?
The easiest and quickest way to file your claim is online. If you need help doing so, there are numbers you can call, which vary based on which part of the state you live. Those numbers are:
- Central New Jersey: 732-761-2020
- North New Jersey: 201-601-4100
- South New Jersey: 856-507-2340
You will need a few pieces of information and either a computer or a smartphone with Internet access. If you need to pause and return to the application later, you can save your progress and resume when you get what you need.
The information you will need includes:
- Your Social Security number (If you are not a US citizen, you will need your valid alien registration card.)
- Information on any 401k or pension you hold.
- Your legal name and any others you have used in the past 18 months.
- Amount and duration of any paid sick leave you have accrued or severance pay you received.
- The address where you receive your mail.
- Recall date if the casino plans to re-hire you.
- Your New Jersey ID such as a driver’s license.
- Complete address, name and telephone number of your most recent employer.
- Your occupation with that employer.
- The date the employer hired you and the last day you worked.
- The reason you are out of work or have had your hours reduced.
Hopefully, life will return to normal soon. In the meantime, New Jersey has made several provisions to help its casino workers navigate this stretch.