In September of 2021, the Murphy Administration instituted a program called Return and Earn. The Return and Earn program incentivizes New Jersey employers to hire and train dislocated workers with identifiable skills gaps. This past spring, presumably due to low employer engagement with the program, the Murphy Administration broadened the population of employers eligible to participate in the program and increased the available incentives.
Here is how the program works. Under new, broader eligibility requirements, private and not-for-profit employers with up to 500 full-time employees can participate in the program. The New Jersey Department of Labor works with interested employers to identify appropriate, eligible job candidates. Employers provide substantive training either at their worksite, or virtually, resulting in skill badges or industry-recognized credentials for the participating employees.
Candidates for employment must be New Jersey residents working a minimum of 32 hours per week, considered full-time, and the position offered must pay at least $16 per hour. Seasonal, temporary, part-time, commission-based or 1099 positions are ineligible.
In exchange for employers hiring candidates within the program, the State reimburses employers 50 percent of the wages paid for regular hours worked for the first six months of the training period, capped at a maximum of $20,000 in wages per employee. The program also caps the aggregate amount of wage reimbursement for a participating employer at $200,000 across all employees. These caps were increased this past spring from the original limits which were $10,000 for each employee and $40,000 in the aggregate per employer.
The Return and Earn program also provides prospective job candidates a $500 incentive to reenter the workforce and participate in the initiative.
For more information about this program and how to participate visit: https://www.nj.gov/labor/lwdhome/press/2023/20230331_updatedreturnandearn.shtml.