Worksharing Programs: How do they work?

In an environment where it is hard to keep the talent you have, what options do you have as an employer to temporarily reduce your staffing due to demands? Employers are faced with this dilemma more and more in our current environment. Many employers will furlough some employees and keep the remaining staff working their regular hours. This tactic allows those who are furloughed a chance to receive unemployment benefits.  In an era where it is difficult to retain talent, are there options that can help retain the talent you need?

 

Some states offer a program called Short-Time Compensation or Work Sharing that can address these issues for employers. When an employer creates a Work Share program with the state, employees in the affected business unit have their hours reduced by a set amount each week (usually between 10-50%) and it turn they qualify for a prorated portion of their unemployment weekly benefit amount.  Often employees who have their hours reduced may not qualify for benefits because they are still earning more than their weekly benefit amount. Work Share programs pay benefits based on the percentage reduction in hours which provides guaranteed benefits for the impacted employees.

 

How does a Work Share program differ from Regular Unemployment?

  1. Work Share benefits are calculated based on the percentage of reduction in wages or hours, multiplied by the weekly benefit amount.  The program does not take into consideration the amount that is still being earned by the employee. This is quite different from regular partial unemployment benefits where they will only be paid if they claimant is earning less than the weekly benefit amount.
  2. Employees identified in a Work Share program do not have to look for other work because they are still "attached" to your workforce. If the employee files for regular unemployment they are required to search for work each week to qualify for benefits opening up the possibility that they can leave for another employer.

What are the requirements for applying for a Work Share Program?

Each state that offers a Work Share program differs slightly but the general requirements are:

  • Hours must be reduced by at least 10-20% and no more than 40-80%
  • The percentage of reduction must be equal for all employees in the program (Texas is an exception to this rule)
  • A minimum number of employees that are impacted is met (most states set the minimum number at 2 or 3 but there are exceptions)
  • Typically, the employer must be current on the unemployment tax filings and payments and some states require that the employer have a positive reserve account
  • The employer must continue to maintain health insurance and retirement benefits for the impacted employees
  • Generally temporary, seasonal, or intermittent employees are not eligible for the plan (New York is the exception to this rule) 
  • If the impacted employees are a part of collective bargaining agreement, the union must sign off on the plan

If you can meet these requirements, then you can move forward with a Work Share plan.  All states require that an application be filed and approved prior to the reduction in hours.  Once your plan is approved, there are weekly reporting requirements that must be met to continue the plan.  Most plans can be approved for a 12 month time period and employers can have multiple plans in place at one time.  For more information about the specific requirements or application process in the states that offer Work Share, please refer to the chart below.  

 

Thomas & Company can assist you in evaluating your specific situation and the state requirements to see if this may be an alternative for you.  Unfortunately, we are unable to apply for or manage the Work Share programs on your behalf.  We have discovered that we do not have access to the data and details necessary to report weekly to the State Workforce Agencies.

 

 

 

State Duration of Plan Required Reduction of Work Minimum Employee Participation Employer Eligibility Requirements Weekly Benefit Limit Website
AK No Workshare plan available
AL No Workshare plan available
AR 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 40%   Any employer who elects to participate in the Shared Work Program must have a positive reserve account and must not have had a temporary layoff of the affected group within the four (4) month period preceding the application for the Shared Work Program. 25 Weeks AR Shared Work Program
AZ 12 Months At least 10% but no more than 40% (temporarily increased to 60% during COVID-19 pandemic)     26 Weeks AZ Shared Work Program
CA 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 60% A minimum of 2 employees and at least 10% of your regular workforce must be affected by a reduction in hours and wages.   No limit on number of weeks but total paid cannot exceed  26 x WBA  CA Work Sharing Program
CO 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 40% The hours of at least 2 employees in an employing unit are impacted and the employer must verify they will not hire or have others work in that employing unit. A positive reserve balance is required. 26 Weeks CO Layoff Alternatives

CT

6 Months At least 10% but not more than 60% At least 2 permanent part or full-time employees are needed to participate.   6 Months CT Shared Work Program
DC 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 60% Shared Work participation applies to a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the employees and no less than two (2) employees of an affected department, shift, or unit.
All employees in an affected unit, shift, or department must have the same reduction percentage.
  52 weeks in a benefit year or an amount not more than the equivalent to the maximum of 26 weeks of regular unemployment compensation. DC Shared Work Program
DE No Workshare plan available
FL 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 40% At least 10 percent of the employees from the total staff or within a particular unit must be working reduced hours. (Two employees is the minimum for a staff or unit of less than 20 employees.)   26 Weeks FL STC Program
GA No Workshare plan available
HI No Workshare plan available
IA 24 Months At least 20% but not more than 50% A plan must affect at least five employees. Plans cannot be used for seasonal work reductions.  A participating employer’s quarterly UI reports must be current and UI taxes paid in full. 26 Weeks IA Shared Work Program
ID No Workshare plan available
IL No Workshare plan available
IN No Workshare plan available
KS 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 50% The employer must have a reduction that affects a business unit of 2 or more employees and the reduction applies to at least 10% of the employees in the affected unit. An employer must have established an experience rating and cannot have a negative balance in their unemployment account or be delinquent on unemployment tax reports or payments. 26 Weeks KS Shared Work Program
KY No Workshare plan available
LA No Workshare plan available
MA 52 Weeks At least 10% but not more than 60% The plan must include at least 2 employees. An employer must be up to date with unemployment insurance contributions, cannot have a negative reserve balance, and must have filed all employment and wage detail reports. 26 weeks MA Work Share Program
MD 26 Weeks At least 10% but not more than 60% The plan must have a minimum of 2 employees of an affected unit in the plan.
Employers must reduce the hours equally among the employees in an impacted unit.
Employers must be current with their unemployment insurance tax contributions.
Employees must have been working for the employer for at least 3 months.
26 Weeks MD Work Share Program
ME 12 Full Calendar Months (after approval) At least 10% but not more than 50% At least 10% of the employees in the affected unit would have been impacted by the layoff.   52 Weeks ME Work Share Program
MI 52 Weeks At least 50% but not more than 80% A plan must include a minimum of 2 employees. Employer must have a positive reserve balance. No limit on the number of weeks. The benefits are paid until the maximum benefit amount is exhausted. MI Work Share Program
MN 12 Months At least 20% but not more than 50% Employees must have been working for the employer for at least 3 months. UI account balance must be paid in full including interest, fees, and penalties. 52 Weeks MN Alternatives to Layoffs
MO 12 Months At least 20% but not more than 40% There is an affected unit of 3 or more employees  and the plan applies to at least 10% of the employees in that unit. Employer has submitted all quarterly contribution and wage reports required to be filed for all past and current periods, and has paid all taxes due for all past and current periods. 52 Weeks MO Shared Work Program
MS No Workshare plan available
MT No Workshare plan available
NC No Workshare plan available
ND No Workshare plan available
NE 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 60% A minimum of 3 participants is needed to apply.   52 weeks or until the maximum benefit amount is exhausted. NE STC Program
NH 26 Weeks At least 10% but not more than 50% The reduction in hours must be spread out equally across all employees in the impacted area. Plans are available to employers whose taxes are up to date and who is in good standing with NH DOL. No limit on number of weeks but total paid cannot exceed  26 x WBA  NH Work Share Program
NM No Workshare plan available
NV No Workshare plan available
NY 53 Weeks At least 20% but not more than 60% An employer must have a minimum of two employees to be eligible to participate. 
Seasonal, intermittent, or temporary workers are eligible.
*Employees facing a layoff may petition an employer to participate in a Work Share Program. Employers have 7 days to respond and are not required to implement a Work Share Program 26 times the individuals weekly benefit rate NY Shared Work Program
OH 52 Calendar Weeks At least 10% but not more than 50% Employers must have at least 2 affected employees. Employers must be current on unemployment insurance reporting, contributions, reimbursements, interest, and penalties due. 52 Weeks OH Shared Work Program
OK No Workshare plan available
OR 52 Weeks At least 20% but not more than 40% Employers must select 3 or more employees with reduced hours to participate.
Each employee must have worked full time for 6 months or part-time for 12 months before the plan is submitted. 
  Total paid cannot exceed 26 x weekly benefit amount OR Work Share Program
PA 52 Weeks At least 20% but not more than 40% Employers must have at least 2 participating employees in the program that are determined to be eligible for benefits.
Employees must have worked at least 3 months in the affected unit and will not work over 40 hours a week once hours are reduced.
Employers must have filed all Unemployment Compensation tax reports and paid all amounts due under PA UC law.
Must have a positive reserve balance and have paid wages for the last 12 completed, consecutive quarters.
52 Weeks PA Shared Work Program
PR No Workshare plan available
RI 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 50% Employer must have 2 or more employees.   52 Weeks RI Work Share Program
SC No Workshare plan available
SD No Workshare plan available
TN No Workshare plan available
TX 12 Months At least 10% but not more than 40% Reduction must affect at least 10% of the employees in the affected unit.
The percentage of reduction can be different for different individuals as long as it ranges between 10-40% each week.
  52 Weeks TX Shared Work Program
UT No Workshare plan available
VA Workshare to be established by January 1, 2022 At least 10% but not more than 60%     Total paid cannot exceed 26 x weekly benefit amount VA Work Share Program
VI No Workshare plan available
VT Workshare program inactivated as of 7/1/2020 due to lack of use.
WA 12 Months or date of plan, if earlier Not less than 10% or more than 50% Employers must enroll a minimum of 2 permanent employees in the plan.   No limit on weeks but cannot exceed maximum benefit amount WA Shared Work Program 
WI 6 Months or date specified in plan, if earlier At least 10% but not more than 50% Plan must include the greater of 20 positions or 10% of the employees in a work unit.
Hours must be evenly reduced among all employees in the program.
 Only employees that have been employed for a period of at least 3 months on the effective date of the program can be participants.
  26 Weeks WI Work Share Program 
WV No Workshare plan available
WY No Workshare plan available