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Department of Labor Seal

Shared Work Program Saves Thousands of Jobs in 2009

Other States Now Look to New York as a Model of Success

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Albany, NY (March 10, 2010) -

Can't See the video? Click Here to Get Adobe Flash Player. One year after Governor Paterson directed the Department of Labor to vigorously promote the Shared Work program to businesses, Department figures show the program saved 11,000 jobs in 2009.

"What started out as a little-known program has now become a huge help to struggling businesses," said Governor David A. Paterson. "Approximately 2,300 companies are now taking part in the program. That's a 700% increase from the number of companies signed up in 2007."

Labor Commissioner Colleen C. Gardner says that while the Shared Work program is a proven success, we need to do more. "Every day workers tell me they'd rather work at least part of their regular week instead of face a lay off. Shared Work is a proven program that helps businesses and employees stay afloat."

Currently 17 states, including New York, have a Shared Work program. Other states including New Jersey, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and Ohio have reached out to New York for guidance in starting their own programs. Late last month, NYSDOL staff testified to the state of Pennsylvania on the benefits of Shared Work.

Shared Work gives employers an alternative to layoffs. Rather than lay off a percentage of workers to cut costs, an employer can reduce the hours of all or a select group of employees. Those workers can use the program to collect partial UI benefits to make up for the lost wages. The Shared Work program allows them to keep their health insurance, retirement, vacation pay, and other fringe benefits.

A company in the Shared Work Programs gets to keep the skilled and trained worker during lean times.

When business picks up, the employer does not have to find new workers and train them.

Shared Work Statewide Totals

January 1, 2007- December 31, 2009

Year

Firms

Jobs Saved

 

 

 

2007

293

1,564

2008

483

2,034

2009

2,251

11,000

Thomas Marusak, founder and President of Comfortex Corporation in Watervliet, NY, whose company has been using the Shared Work Program for at least a decade encourages other businesses across the state to take advantage of the program. "If you don't know about the Shared Work program you have to seek out an application to this program immediately because it's one of the best programs that New York State offers."

Robin Nichols, a Comfortex employee, says the program saved her job. "This program helps me out a lot because right now with the economy going down no one can afford to lose their job or any hours at all."

Denis Hughes, President of the NYS AFL-CIO said, "For the past year, Shared Work has proven successful, as evidenced by the 11,000 jobs saved as a result of the program. While this initiative has helped to bridge the gap through difficult economic times, it should only be a part of our unemployment solution.  The next step should be creating a more effective economic development strategy that focuses on getting people transitioned from Shared Work into better paying, permanent jobs with benefits. Shared Work has been a successful first step toward that goal."

To enroll in the program, an employer must have at least five full-time (35-40 hours/week) employees. The business or its predecessor must have paid UI taxes for at least a year before they apply to DOL. The employers must apply at least two weeks before they plan to start the program.

A Shared Work plan must include:

  • a cutback in work hours from 20 - 60%
  • fewer hours in place of laying off an equal portion of the workforce
  • no cut in fringe benefits
  • no extension beyond 53 weeks
  • approval by NYSDOL before starting

The employer:

  • cannot hire more workers for the group covered by the plan
  • the plan must be in lieu of a layoff of an equivalent percentage of the workforce
  • must reduce the hours of all workers in an affected unit by the same amount
  • may reduce different units by varying amounts

In union shops, the collective bargaining unit must agree to the Shared Work Program

Employees who would normally qualify for regular UI benefits in New York State may take part in the Shared Work Program. Because Shared Work is an alternative to layoffs, workers cannot collect more than they would get if laid off.

People can only collect a maximum of 20 weeks of Shared Work benefits in a benefit year. They may collect beyond this through further federal funding. However, more emergency or extended benefits will require federal legislation.

Companies can apply for the Shared Work program at: http://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/dande/sharedwork1.shtm

To apply for the Shared Work program for their workers, employers can call (518) 457-5807.

Shared Work by Region

January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2009

Region

Year

Firms

Estimated Jobs Saved

Capital Region

2008

49

366

 

2009

151

580

 

 

 

 

Long Island

2008

54

278

 

2009

284

1,000

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes

2008

63

749

 

2009

384

2,000

 

 

 

 

Hudson Valley

2008

45

177

 

2009

164

570

 

 

 

 

Mohawk Valley

2008

27

237

 

2009

98

850

 

 

 

 

New York City

2008

37

167

 

2009

388

1,100

 

 

 

 

North Country

2008

10

74

 

2009

36

250

 

 

 

 

Southern Tier

2008

44

261

 

2009

138

1,300

 

 

 

 

Central New York

2008

51

418

 

2009

160

900

 

 

 

 

Western New York

2008

86

1,116

 

2009

363

2,000

 

 

 

 

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