NY Assembly to Pass Bills Protecting Workers, Small Business


New York’s Democratic-led Assembly plans to pass legislation Tuesday to help workers and small businesses financially survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers could collect unemployment insurance while working part time, small businesses would be protected from being charged higher rates for unemployment insurance when they reopen, and New York would put a stay on eviction and foreclosure for small businesses under the proposed legislation.

“Unemployment insurance has been a critical lifeline for millions of our friends and neighbors who lost their job through no fault of their own during this pandemic,” Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Small business owners who were forced to let workers go because of the pandemic have expressed concern about what’s known as their experience rating, which reflects a small business’s unemployment claims and is used as a basis for unemployment charges on employers.

Small businesses often have lower ratings because they have fewer employees and claims, and the Assembly bill would exclude such businesses from extra unemployment insurance charges if they were forced to close or reduce their staff after March 12, 2020.

And another bill would allow workers who find part-time work to maintain eligibility for unemployment insurance. Currently, New York imposes a 25% reduction in benefits for any work performed in a single day.

Assemblymember Al Stirpe said that creates a disincentive for people to return to part-time work.

And small businesses of fewer than 50 employees would have a moratorium on evictions until May 1, 2021, under a third bill.

Tenants and landlords would fill out a standardized hardship declaration form to receive protections, which also include tax lien and negative credit reporting protections and a stay on foreclosures for small businesses that are renting ten or fewer properties.