A Garden state lawmaker wants to make sure workers are able to keep their jobs - and medical benefits - even if their employer needs to reduce staffing levels because of difficult economic conditions.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty is sponsoring a measure that would allow employers - when they contemplating layoffs "to instead reduce people's hours, and allow them to share the work and allow those employees to be eligible for partial unemployment to make up for the reduced hours…for example, if a company has 100 workers and management was going to lay 10 people off, instead, you could reduce everybody's hours 10 percent - and then the employees would be able to get unemployment compensation to make up for that 10 percent."

He says "this is a way for both workers and businesses to benefit, while keeping people off of full-time unemployment -I think it's a sensible thing to do, to try to protect hard-working New Jerseyans and businesses that employ them…it's imperative that we keep people working, even if it's at reduced hours, and allowing them to have partial unemployment to make up for the lost hours."

Moriarty adds he doesn't believe unemployment payouts would increase - costing the state more money - because "remember, instead of laying off a bunch of people and they're all collecting full unemployment, instead, you'd have people collecting partial unemployment and it would balance itself out… 22 states already have something similar to this idea, and it's worked and it's prevented job loss, and I think that it's something that we should adopt as soon as possible."

He also points out "this bill is a bipartisan bill, my co-sponsor is a republican, I think it will pass the Assembly, I hope it will pass the Senate and I would hope the Governor would sign it into law because I think it will reduce full unemployment and it's a perfect tool for both employees and businesses…it will help companies because let's say they need to lay off 10 people this year, but next year they need to rehire 10 people - well they'll be able to keep the employees they already have who are already trained."

The legislation (A-3818) is up for a vote by the full Lower House today.