To prevent sweeping layoffs, state shared work plans could allow employers to cut workers’ hours instead of cutting jobs entirely, and let them receive partial unemployment benefits to make up the difference in pay. 

This means that, instead of one (or multiple) coworkers getting a pink slip, a few people or everyone in an office could have their hours cut, but they would also get help from government unemployment coffers and still be able to keep their company’s benefits, according several state employment offices.

Here’s what you need to know about shared work plans, also known as work share programs.

Why Work Share?
Shared work programs are adopted in lieu of temporary layoffs so employers can retain valuable employees.  They can also significantly reduce the costs related to recruitment and training when the economy recovers, according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, a non-profit group focused on issues affecting people with lower incomes.

The programs enable you to continue to receive health insurance, retirement benefits, paid vacation and holidays, sick leave and other benefits from your employer.

If you’re making money from another job with a different employer, those earnings aren’t likely to affect your work share benefits as long as you’re not working full time at your second job, according to the WorkShare program offered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

In Oregon for example, if your earnings under the shared work program are less than what your regular unemployment benefits would be and you work less than 40 hours per week, you may qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

General Rules to Qualify

  • Your normal work schedule may have to be 30 hours or more per week and no more than 40 hours a week, excluding overtime.
  • Your work hours may have had to be reduced by at least 20% and not more than 40%, depending on your state’s policies.
  • You must have worked for your employer full-time and continuously for six months, or part time for one year.
  • Depending on your state, your employer may need to have at least two or three people taking part in the shared work plan.
  • The plan isn’t meant to be a subsidy for seasonal and intermittent employees.
  • There may be a waiting period of a week before you can receive shared work program benefits.
  • You may have to be available for your employer during the normal work week and you’ll have to work all the hours that your employer offers you.
  • You’ll have to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits from your state.  For example, your work hours must have been reduced through no fault of your own, and you have to be actively seeking work.

To find out whether your state has a shared work program and for specifics on the program in your state, check online for your local employment office and contact them for more information.

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