New Return and Earn Program Provides $10K in Wage Subsidies to Small Businesses

Gov. Phil Murphy today announced Return and Earn, a new jobs program which aims to assist unemployed workers in their return to work, while also helping small businesses fill the positions they need.

“Employers, especially small businesses, face [challenges] in finding the workers they need, and investing in training them,” Murphy said. “Many small businesses simply do not have the resources to support new hires who need on-the-job training.” 

The two-track program includes up to $10,000 in wage subsidies for employers to hire and train new employees with identifiable skills gaps, and also includes a $500 incentive for new hires for businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Murphy described the program as a win-win.

Employees that receive a job through Return and Earn will receive the $500 return-to-work bonus in their first paycheck, which will stack on top of any other hiring bonus or benefit provided by their employer, according to the governor. 

“We know that returning to work comes with some of its own costs such as transportation and childcare, and this benefit is designed to help workers meet these costs,” Murphy said.

Employers can receive a wage subsidy for up to six months, up to a cap of $10,000 per Return and Earn employee, and are limited to a total Return and Earn subsidy of $40,000 across all employees.

“For an employer, the $10,000 wage subsidy is there to help cover wages for a new employee for up to their first six months on the job – a time when employers are providing the on-the-job training to onboard and upskill new workers,” Murphy said.

In order to be eligible, businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, and the positions to be filled must pay at least $15 per hour.

The Return and Earn program represents the beginning of an opportunity to provide job training while helping employers incentivize workers to come back to the workplace,” NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka said in a statement. “This program is a good start to address the workforce challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and we look forward to working toward continued holistic approaches to further address the future of work in New Jersey.” 

The New Jersey Department of Labor will help employers identify prospective candidates for available positions.  

Employers can visit nj.gov/labor/returnandearn to express interest in the program.

“We know that there are good jobs out there waiting to be filled. Our hope is that Return and Earn will make it easier and faster for employers to connect with potential employees and to bring them on board,” Murphy said.