700 Mich. employers have used program to bring back laid-off workers during COVID-19

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    The state is encouraging employers to bring back laid-off workers through reduced hours using the state’s Work Share program. 

    The program helps hard-hit employers get back on their feet during the  economic downfall by offering employees reduced hours and still allowing them to collect partial unemployment benefits. 

    Almost 700 Michigan employers are already participating in more than 1,700 Work Share plans.

    “As we begin the safe reengagement of our economy, our job providers can use Work Share to save money and help more people return to work faster,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The program can give business owners the resources needed to retain or bring back employees as their customer and business capacity ramps back up.”

    Under the federally funded program, a worker receives a reduced salary from an employer, but is given a percent of their state benefits plus the additional $600 federal payment in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through CARES Act through July 2020. 

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    Employers who need to reduce hours and wages by 10% to 60% can enroll employees in the program.

    In Executive Order 2020-57, Whitmer expanded employers’ eligibility for the program. Previously, the employers needed to reduce wages by at least 15% and no more than 45% in order to qualify. 

    “Work Share offers employers solutions to fit their specific business needs by allowing multiple plans with different reduction levels and the ability to choose how many of their workers will participate,” Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) Director Jeff Donofrio said.

    The program offers employers multiple plans based on their specific needs. There is only a minimum of two employees per plan. Plans can be approved for up to a year and can be ended at any time without penalty. 

    “Small businesses across Michigan have found the Work Share program to be a tremendous tool to help them restart their business at a reduced capacity,” said Small Business Association President Brian Calley. “Employers navigating operational issues with the reopening of the economy are urged to explore and understand the flexible options available.” 

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.