Sen. Kissel Offers Legislation to Address School Bus Drivers’ Unemployment Filing Frustrations

January 17, 2023

After hearing the concerns expressed by an Enfield-based school bus company, Sen. John A. Kissel today announced that he is submitting legislation which aims to reform the state’s unemployment system.

Smyth Bus, which provides school transportation for Enfield, East Windsor and Windsor Locks Public Schools, reached out to Sen. Kissel on Jan. 11 regarding issues many of its drivers are having filing unemployment claims since the transition to the new unemployment system last year.

Since the state’s new unemployment system was implemented in July, Smyth Bus has received numerous driver complaints about the difficulty and delay in receiving unemployment benefits. Many have been left waiting for weeks to receive their payment.

“This respected local business is asking for help in making it both easier and quicker for school bus drivers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, to receive their temporary unemployment benefits for school vacations,” Sen. Kissel said.  “We have a shortage of drivers statewide, and that situation has put much stress on our public school systems and parents.  We should be doing all we can to prevent that shortage from getting worse.”

School bus drivers typically file for unemployment benefits for school vacations, both during the school year (i.e. winter and spring break) and during the summer. Many drivers are also in the position, due to the nature of the job, where it is impractical to obtain other employment for these short intervals to supplement their income.

“Like so many other Connecticut residents, our school bus drivers cannot afford to miss a week’s pay,” Sen. Kissel said.  “Their unique situation—especially since it is reoccurring and follows a schedule—warrants accommodation that would make receiving temporary unemployment benefits quicker and easier.”

Sen. Kissel said his legislation will direct the state Department of Labor to expedite the process for school bus drivers to receive unemployment benefits for school vacations.

“There are undoubtedly thousands of other drivers across the state that are experiencing the same frustrations that the drivers for Smyth Bus are experiencing,” Sen. Kissel said. “I hope this proposed legislation will address their filing frustrations while helping to retain school bus drivers across Connecticut.”

Sen. Kissel represents Granby, East Granby, Ellington, Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks and Windsor. On the web: