Speaker Carl Heastie and Labor Committee Chair Latoya Joyner today announced the enacted State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2021-22 Budget includes $2.1 billion for the Excluded Worker Fund. The fund will be administered by the Department of Labor and will provide critical support for workers who do not have access to unemployment, federal stimulus funds or other assistance funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers across the state risked their lives to keep our state moving and our families safe,” said Speaker Heastie. “When unemployment rates skyrocketed last summer, many of those selfless workers were excluded from any type of federal assistance during this pandemic and we must take care of all New Yorkers.”
“When New York became the epicenter of this pandemic, countless workers lost their job and have struggled to make ends meet,” said Assemblymember Joyner. “Our immigrant communities are an essential part of our economy and many of them are not eligible for unemployment or any other federal assistance. This funding provides the emergency support every New Yorker should have access to.”
“Like so many communities across this state, immigrant communities have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis and the economic devastation it has caused,” said Chair of the Task Force on New Americans Catalina Cruz. “Unlike most New Yorkers, these communities have been given absolutely no financial assistance or relief during this crisis, despite paying taxes and unemployment insurance. This measure will help right this wrong and demonstrate the compassion and decency that is long overdue to these hardworking New Yorkers.”
“Every hardworking New Yorker deserves relief from the devastating effects of this health and economic crisis,” said Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa. “These communities were at the epicenter of this pandemic, yet they have not received any financial relief. This fund ensures that every New Yorker is treated with dignity and supported during this difficult time.”
The term “excluded worker” would include any individual who does not meet the eligibility requirements for state or federal unemployment benefits, and has not received any such benefits; does not meet the eligibility requirements for the federal stimulus payments; and has suffered a loss of work-related earnings or household income due to COVID-19. This could include having lost employment, work hours or becoming the breadwinner or major source of income for a household in the event that the head of household has died or become disabled.
Benefits would be available to any excluded worker whose gross work-related earnings did not exceed $26,208 in the 12 months prior to the effective date of the program, which represents the maximum amount of unemployment benefits that these individuals would have otherwise received if they were eligible for unemployment. Each individual will need to establish proof of identity, proof of residency in New York State, and proof of work-related eligibility during the benefit period of March 27, 2020 through April 1, 2021 in order to receive benefits.
For many New Yorkers, unemployment benefits, federal stimulus funds and other forms of emergency income assistance have been a lifeline during this crisis. However, many hardworking New Yorkers such as child care workers, domestic workers and construction workers have been excluded from receiving these benefits despite the critical role they play in our economy. This legislation ensures that every New Yorker is treated with dignity and given the support they need to overcome this crisis.