PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will receive a $330,000 federal grant to help improve the state’s short-time compensation/layoff prevention program known as “WorkShare,” Rhode Island lawmakers announced Wednesday.
Work sharing is designed to help businesses weather difficult economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs while keeping their existing skilled employees on payroll.
Eligible workers may also receive a portion of unemployment insurance benefits to make up for lost wages while their hours are reduced.
“The program saves taxpayers by reducing unemployment and gives companies the flexibility to reduce hours instead of their workforce, helping them save on rehiring costs while employees keep their jobs,” according to a release from Sen. Jack Reed's office.
The grant, announced when U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Reps. James R. Langevin and David Cicilline and R.I. Department of Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty toured the Central Falls-based Safety Flag Company of America, was made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.
“This remains a difficult economy and we need to do everything we can to help create jobs, save jobs and give people an opportunity to earn a living,” Reed, who co-wrote the bill, said in prepared remarks. “This voluntary program is a smart investment in preventing future layoffs, making recessions less severe and helping businesses improve when the economy bounces back.”
Rhode Island, and 21 states and the District of Columbia, have implemented work share programs, saving more than 365,000 jobs since 2009, said a release. According to DLT statistics, the WorkShare program prevented 12,485 layoffs in Rhode Island from 2008 to 2010.
If Rhode Island meets all the requirements under the new law, during the next three years, it will be relieved of all work sharing payments. If these provisions had been in place during the previous three years, the state would have saved an estimated $36 million.
Since the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 was enacted in February, the state will be reimbursed for the $2 million in work sharing benefits it has paid out since then.