State’s Shared Work Program Expanded
Additional Connecticut employers can take part
Additional Connecticut employers now have the option to participate in the state’s Shared Work Program as a means to avoid layoffs and instead preserve jobs and retain skilled employees during financially trying times as a result of a change to the Shared Work Program law passed by the state legislature in the 2013.
According to State Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer, the Shared Work Program allows a business to reduce the work schedule of permanent, full-time employees during a temporary decline in business. The affected employees receive partial unemployment benefits to help supplement their lost wages.
“Since the program’s inception in 1992, businesses considered ‘contributing employers’: those that pay into the state’s Unemployment Insurance Program: have been eligible,” Palmer explains. “A legislative change enacted as part of Public Act 13-66 that took effect [Oct. 1], expands the state’s Shared Work Program by allowing all Connecticut employers meeting certain criteria to participate.”
Prior to the Oct. 1 expansion of this program, ineligible employers such as self-funded non-profits were often faced with the need to lay off a percentage of their workforce when facing business downturns. The change will give these employers the option of temporarily reducing hours and corresponding wages of all or some employees in order to avoid layoffs, retain skilled workers, remain prepared for business upswings, minimize training costs, and increase employee morale.
The Shared Work Program, administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor, is made available to Connecticut companies through special eligibility regulations. Participating companies must have at least four full-time employees and cannot eliminate or reduce employee fringe benefits, and hours and wages cannot be reduced by less than 20% or more than 40%.
“Approximately 275 companies are currently taking advantage of the program,” Palmer says. “These companies value their workers, but at this time do not have enough current business to keep their employee base operating at full force.”
The Shared Work Program helps the participating company better position itself for the future once its economic situation has stabilized, allowing companies to avoid costly retraining expenses that would result if layoffs took place.
Employees taking part must be able to work and available for full-time employment with the participating employer, and they must meet all regular unemployment compensation requirements.
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