Will Essential Worker Pay Program be extended?
(WFSB) - The time to apply for the essential pay program ended this weekend. Since its start, the program’s website has been plagued with problems, with many of you telling Channel 3, you aren’t sure if your applications were even accepted. So, what’s next?
According to the state Comptroller’s office, 190,000 workers have completed their application. But there are 170,000 more who didn’t, because they “provided their identity information but did not complete document upload and/or attestation.”
An office spokesperson says, there are many reasons why a user could be in the 170K group, telling Channel 3 that many accounts are duplicates (people that registered once, weren’t sure it worked, and registered again with a different email) or an ineligible worker got to the questions and realized they didn’t qualify (not 1A/1B, government workers, worked from home).
IF YOU HAD TECH ISSUES WITH THE WEBSITE:
There are also those in the 170K group who had technical issues.
According to the state Comptroller’s office, “There were no sitewide outages or widespread server issues, but obviously people were encountering some issues especially at times of high volume.”
However, you won’t have to worry. The office spokesperson said they will run all of the submissions (including the ones without signature and attestation) through the eligibility checking process.
Then, there are two possible outcomes: For qualified workers that have submitted everything they need, they’ll get an email saying their application has been approved. For everyone else, they will get an email saying their application was not approved, including the reason (which for some would be simply that they need to attest to their eligibility and sign). Every worker who has an unapproved submission will have the chance to ask for reconsideration. Details and timing of this will be communicated to them via the email they used to create their account.
WHEN WILL YOU GET AN ANSWER:
The state Comptroller’s office says the submissions will get reviewed and verified in batches. The first notice of approval/rejection will happen near the end of October but it could take as long as 60 business days for an application to be reviewed. As a reminder, the program cannot determine the final payment amounts until ALL submissions have been finalized (including those being reconsidered) and they anticipate checks and direct deposits to be sent early in 2023.
For the time being, essential workers should hold tight while the review process happens. The next step for all workers who registered for the site is to look for an email from the vendor (Public Consulting Group, or PCG) in the coming weeks.
WILL THE STATE EXTEND, OR ADD MORE MONEY? It’s a matter of if, not when.
State officials budgeted just $30 million for the program.
Asked whether the state will extend the deadline to apply, or add money to the fund, Comptroller Natalie Braswell say, “The significant demand for the program demonstrates how necessary and impactful this relief can be. I encourage lawmakers to explore all available avenues to look after our essential workers, including expanding the Premium Pay fund. However, it’s clear in talking to workers across the state during my time in office that the relief they need extends beyond the acute impact of the pandemic. Government’s commitment to working people in our state should include sustained and long-term assistance. I hope the Premium Pay program is a starting line for that work, not the finish.”
We asked State Senator Julie Kushner, co-chair of the labor and public employees committee, about extending the program. She says she is “confident” that ***when** the legislature expands the program, they will not only be looking at increasing the fund, and extending the deadline, but also expanding the program by looking at whether municipal workers could be included in a second round.
Senator Kushner says “there is work to be done, " but added leadership in the State House and Senate are interested in expanding the program. She could not give a timeline, saying they are waiting for more specific data from the state comptroller about the program.
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