Connecticut has expanded its decades old Shared Work program, which helps businesses prevent layoffs by allowing them to temporarily reduce employee hours and use partial unemployment benefits to supplement lost wages. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has been talking with the Governor's Office about more help for businesses and says there's about $7 million in funding available, and that few people are taking advantave of the program.
The federal government will reimburse the Trust Fund for unemployment costs normally charged to the employers.
The Shared Work program helps employers retain a talented workforce during economic downturns. Rather than laying off the workforce – and having to recruit, hire, and train new labor when the economy recovers – Shared Work employers are able to reduce overhead by temporarily cutting hours. Their employees keep their jobs at a reduced schedule, keep their benefits, and are able to file for partial unemployment benefits for the lost wages.
Employer eligibility includes companies with two or more workers that have hourly reductions within 10 to 60 percent of normal hours, provided that the lost hours are not related to seasonal separations. Shared Work runs for a maximum of six months for each employee.
In the year prior to the pandemic – from March 2019 through March 2020 – the program served 288 companies and just under 2,900 workers.
Companies interested in participating in Shared Work must apply with the Connecticut Department of Labor.