Maine Department of Labor officials are launching a new unemployment initiative this month aimed at keeping workers on the job when their employer experiences a temporary slowdown in business.
The WorkShare program allows workers to remain on the job with reduced hours and still collect a modified unemployment benefit that partially offsets the loss in wages, according to a press release. Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass said the program benefits both businesses and employees. "Workers keep their work history intact and have the ability to retain their benefits and seniority on the job. Employers are able to maintain their operations on a smaller scale and gear up quickly when the economy improves," he said in the release.
To be eligible for WorkShare, the employer needs to demonstrate that a layoff would have impacted at least 10% of workers for a two- to six-month period. The reduction in hours must be at least 10%, but not more than 50%, and work can't be seasonal or temporary. Workers looking to receive partial unemployment benefits must be included in the affected unit of the business; have earned enough wages to meet the regular qualifications for unemployment benefits; and be able to work their normally scheduled hours. Partial unemployment benefits are paid in a percentage equal to the reduction in hours.
The WorkShare program is a result of a 2011 federal law change. More information can be found here.
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