Small businesses in New Jersey ban together to ask former employees to return
Small businesses around New Jersey are gathering together to put out a plea - begging for former employees to come back to work.
Mueller's Bakery in Bay Head was packed by 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday with customers. Employees had to scramble to assist them all because the shop is short on staff.
“We just can’t get any employees. We can’t even get people to apply,” says owner Alli O’Neill. “It has been very discouraging. It’s mind-boggling.”
O’Neill says that for the first time in 18 years, the shop will be closed one day a week. It will close on Wednesdays to keep from overworking the current employees.
O’Neill says that she needs a baker’s assistant, an experienced cake decorator and a delivery driver. She says that it is frustrating because of what she is offering.
“We have 100% health care. We have retirement plans, paid vacation and very competitive pay rates,” O’Neill says.
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O'Neill was at a conference of business owners who believe workers are choosing unemployment checks over jobs. The situation is so desperate, that a reminder is going out to seasonal workers - If you don't work 12 weeks, you won't be eligible for unemployment checks in the off-season.
“You still have time to do that. The federal unemployment enhancement program ends Sept. 4,” says Michele Siekerka of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
Also speaking out was Karyn Serrano who owns three Kiddie Academy locations. She says she wants unemployment laws enforced. She says that often people just don't show for her interviews, and says that the system is being abused.
“I have reported several people who refused to return to work just because they refused to return to work and nothing was ever filed. They continued to receive benefits,” she says.
Serrano is hoping that things will improve in September when kids go back to school and more women will be able to re-enter the workforce. She says that she has 60 families on the waiting list – openings she can only fill if she has additional staff.
The NJBIA reports that the state has lost 40% of all small businesses since January of 2020.