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Costello v. Board of Review

Decided. As Corrected August 15 1994.: May 24, 1994.

KENNETH J. COSTELLO, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from Board of Review, Department of Labor.

Before Judges Brody, Stern and Keefe.

Brody

The opinion of the court was delivered by BRODY, P.J.A.D.

A person who has received unemployment compensation benefits must requalify in order to receive such benefits after the benefit year. A "benefit year" is defined as "the 364 consecutive calendar days beginning with the day on, or as of, which he first files a valid claim for benefits[.]" N.J.S.A. 43:21-19(d). In order

to requalify, a person must engage in "four weeks of employment since the beginning of the immediately preceding benefit year" (emphasis added) and have "earned at least six times his previous weekly benefit amount." N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(e)(4). The Board of Review rejected appellant's argument that he satisfied these requirements through his service to a municipality for more than four weeks in a "workfare" program as a condition to his receipt of General Assistance. We agree with the Board and affirm.

"Workfare" was authorized by N.J.S.A. 44:8-114, L. 1990, c. 66, § 17, which, at the time in question, provided in part that the "Division [of Employment Services in the Department of Labor] shall provide for the establishment of public work programs for the assignment of employable persons in receipt of public assistance." The statute expressed its purpose as a work-relief or work-training program for the unemployed by limiting its work requirement to employable but unemployed recipients who are actively seeking employment and by allowing the work requirement to be satisfied by performing public work or enrolling in job training:

Willingness to report for or to perform work shall be demonstrated by maintaining a current registration with the division; by reporting to a division office upon request and providing all required information; by reporting for employment interviews as scheduled by the division; by accepting employment or better employment when offered, whether or not the offer is made through or referred by the division; by accepting training for employment as offered when the person is unemployed; and by continuing in employment training, unless the person has good cause to fail or refuse to report for or to perform the work to which the person has been assigned. [L. 1990, c. 66, § 17.]*fn1

During part of appellant's benefit year, he received a grant of assistance under the General Public Assistance Law, N.J.S.A.

44:8-107 to -157. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 44:8-111(d), the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services promulgated regulations respecting the "workfare" component of such grants. N.J.A.C. 10:85-10.1 required "all employable recipients of General Assistance" to participate in workfare, defined as a "system by which certain persons perform work or engage in various training or work preparation activities in exchange for their grants of assistance." Worksite assignments were established either by the municipal welfare director or the New Jersey Employment Service. N.J.A.C. 10:85-10.3 provided in part:

(a) Worksite assignments may be established by the municipal welfare director to perform work for the municipality or for a non-profit agency or institution under contract to the municipality.

(b) Worksite assignments may be established by the Employment Service in the performance of work for county or State Agencies as well as municipal agencies, non-profit agencies and institutions. Assignment by the Employment Service to a General Educational Development (high school equivalency) course or any other ...


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