Cutting hours, not people

Alternative to layoffs: state’s Work Sharing Program

When businesses and agencies feel a financial pinch, layoffs invariably become part of the budget-cut conversation. Sending good workers to the unemployment line is a lose-lose proposition, so California’s Employment Development Department has a program to help keep that from happening.

It’s called the Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Program. Though it’s been on the books since 1978, many people don’t know it exists.

Here’s how Work Sharing works: During a temporary slowdown, if an employer reduces the hours of at least 10 percent of its employees (or employees in a particular work unit) by at least 10 percent, those employees can be eligible for state reimbursement of lost income.

This helps companies keep valued workers on the job until business picks up, and it helps the state by reducing the number of full-time unemployment claims filed with EDD. Benefits get paid weekly, with the amount related to the percentage of hours reduced and the employee’s wages.

For details, check the EDD Web site at (search for “Work Sharing Claims”—it’s in the “Unemployment” section). Employers can call (916) 464-3343; the line for claimants (i.e. employees) is (916) 464-3300.