With the New Jersey shortage continuing, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced a new Return and Earn program that’s designed to help coax workers back into the labor market while offering smaller businesses financial assistance to help train new employees.

Murphy on Monday said Return and Earn is s two-track program with parallel rails, offering employers “up to $10,000 in wage subsidies to hire and train new employees with identifiable skills gaps, and for employees, a direct $500 return to work benefit.”

He explained the program will provide those who get a new job “a $500 return to work bonus in their first paycheck, and this bonus will be on top of any other hiring bonus or benefit provided by their employer.”

The governor said returning to work comes with associated costs, like transportation or child care and this benefit is designed to help workers meet these costs

Murphy said for companies with up to 100 employees the $10,000 wage subsidy will be provided “to help cover wages for a new employee for up to their first 6 months on the job, a time when employers are providing the on the job training to onboard and upskill new workers.”

He noted companies must be offering new workers at least $15 an hour to be eligible for the subsidy.

He said the total reimbursement for businesses will be capped at $10,000 per employee, and at $40,000 per employer “and this reimbursement will be valid whether this training occurs in person at the job site, or virtually.”

A total of $10 million for the program is coming from the federal American Rescue Fund. The governor said if it’s successful he will consider adding additional dollars to the program.

Murphy also said the state Department of Labor will soon be “following up with all the vital details for both interested employers and workers.”

"The New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce supports Governor Phil Murphy’s “Return and Earn” program," said Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "The NJ Chamber is gratified that the Governor has responded to our requests that more American Rescue Plan dollars be invested in the state’s business community to help accelerate our economic recovery.”

"The Return and Earn program represents the beginning of an opportunity to provide job training while helping employers incentivize workers to come back to the workplace,” said Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "This program is a good start to address the workforce challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and we look forward to working toward continued holistic approaches to further address the future of work in New Jersey."

You can get more information at nj.gov/labor/returnandearn.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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