As an alternative to complete lay-offs, many states (including Arizona and Colorado) offer employers a “Work Share” program. Also known as “Shared Work” or “short-time compensation”, this allows employees to be paid partial unemployment benefits while still working. The arrangement is intended to support employers and enable them to maintain their workforce while weathering financial difficulty. Employees benefit from not being fully separated from employment and thus able to quickly resume regular work schedules when business conditions improve. There are state-specific requirements to be eligible for participation (see links below), and allow two weeks for initial processing.
It sounds like a possible win for all parties involved; however, we have learned from member feedback of a few sticking points that can be problematic. Generally speaking, employers must be very precise and pay careful attention to specific details to avoid problems. Here are a few tips to enhance successful outcomes:
- Employers must draft a work plan and submit to the state agency for review. Once submitted, the plan must be followed precisely. Even a small deviation of hours worked by an employee will generate a rejection for that particular individual.
- When calculating the reduction in time for each employee, a specific percentage must be identified; ranges, such as 10-40%, are not allowed.
- As business conditions change, and employee hours are increased, a revised plan must be submitted each time a change is necessary.
- Employers must carefully draft plans in advance: approved plans are implemented immediately and thus there is no “wiggle room” for errors.
- Overall, employers may find Work Share useful if they are willing to commit to advanced planning, meeting deadlines and staying aware of program details.