If you are an employer in one of 17 states with work-sharing accommodations for employers, you can help ease the pain of reduced hours by implementing a program of work sharing. Work sharing arrangements allow for reduced unemployment benefits that employees receive under approved plans when wages are lost due to a cut in hours.
Just as unemployment insurance is administered by each state, work share plans can vary from California to Connecticut and Kansas. In general, employers request approval for a plan and complete necessary reporting. Plans also typically require a continuation of benefits. Without work sharing employees may be eligible to apply for partial unemployment when there is a drop in hours — but it’s nice for employees to know up-front that a portion of a pay cut will be covered.
You may also find that some employees are willing to volunteer for a reduced workweek or temporary layoff during summer months. It never hurts to ask for volunteers first as long as you don’t leave the impression of forcing individuals to volunteer. Whatever you do, make certain that it is consistent and does not impact any gender, age, or ethnic group disproportionately. This is not the time to announce an offer of a voluntary week’s leave by posting a flyer that reads, “Ladies, get out your bikini for a 2009 summer week off to catch up on your tan.”
The states with work sharing programs include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. State departments of labor or employment/workforce development will be the best source for the guidelines for the program.
While employer participation in work sharing has been rising the benefit is typically underutilized. It’s a great way to retain valuable employees and help lessen the sting of a business downturn.