WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell announced her support for legislation that would help struggling businesses keep their employees on the job through a federal program known as ‘work share.’ The Keeping Americans Working Act provides a cost-saving alternative to employers that need to cut payroll costs. Instead of laying off workers, employers can reduce the number of hours worked by individual employees. The program allows employees on reduced hours to collect unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for lost income while continuing to receive their benefits. Washington state has the nation’s second-largest work share program in place saving tens of thousands of jobs. This bill would support and expand programs like Washington’s by providing 100 percent federal funding for 26 weeks of benefits.
“In 2009, work share in Washington state showed a 357 percent increase and saved more than 27,000 jobs – the second highest total among the 17 states nationwide that offer work-share benefits,” said Cantwell. “Washington has proven that work share works. With the federal assistance provided by this bill, the work share model used in Washington can be expanded and replicated in other states. In these tough economic times we must do everything possible to support businesses still fighting to keep their doors open and their employees on the job. Work share allows businesses to keep handing out paychecks instead of pink slips.”
Work share in Washington has already saved 27,342 public and private-sector jobs, placing the state at second in the nation of total jobs saved by the program, according to the Department of Labor. Currently, 51,000 Washingtonians are eligible to participate in the program for up to 52 weeks of benefits.
Information about the program is available online at www.esd.wa.gov and searching “shared work,” or by phone at 800-752-2500.