Although the job market shows signs of a healthy recovery, there are some companies that could be faced with laying off valuable employees as a way to cut costs.

Michigan’s Work Share program, administered by the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), offers businesses an alternative. Under the program, instead of laying off staff, an employer can reduce the hours of at least two full- time employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

“This program helps businesses by allowing them keep their skilled workforce intact,” said Stephanie Comai, director of the Talent Investment Agency, the new agency which houses the UIA. “Keeping productive and talented workers during a temporary slowdown allows employers to gear up quickly when business conditions improve.

“This program is a perfect addition to Michigan’s toolbox as we focus on retaining and training workers with the right skills to help ensure that Michigan’s economy continues to grow.”

Under the Work Share program, workers whose hours have been reduced receive unemployment benefits based on a percentage of the reduced hours of work and pay. For example, a company with 100 employees finds it necessary to lay off 20 people. With Work Share, the employer keeps all 100 employees on the payroll, but reduces their work week from five days to four days, achieving the desired 20 percent reduction in payroll. All 100 employees will continue to earn wages for four days and are eligible for Work Share benefits on the fifth day.

“The program is flexible, allowing employers to enroll some or all of their employees, and they can reduce the employee’s hours anywhere from 15 to 45 percent per week.” said UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey. “It’s also a great benefit for workers, who are spared the hardship of full unemployment and are able to retain their health insurance and other benefits.”

As an incentive for employers, the federal government will cover more than 92 percent of the costs of Work Share benefits through Aug. 22, 2015. The remaining 7 percent would be charged to the employer’s account in the same manner as regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Employers may apply to participate in the Work Share program online through the UIA’s Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) at michigan.gov/uia.

For more information about Work Share requirements and eligibility, contact 1-844-WORKSHR (967-5747) or visit the UIA website at michigan.gov/uia.

For more information about the Talent Investment Agency, visit www.michigan.gov/tia.

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