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About the NYS Shared Work Program to Avoid Layoffs

Written by Complete Payroll

About the NYS Shared Work Program to Avoid Layoffs - Complete Payroll

New York State is encouraging employers to consider its Shared Work Program as an alternative to employee layoffs. With the program, employees can receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. Full-time, part-time and seasonal employees are eligible.

The Shared Work Program helps employers avoid some of the problems caused by a layoff. By keeping your employees during a temporary slowdown, you can ramp up quickly when business conditions improve. And you don't have to deal with the expense and added time of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. On top of that, you spare your employees the hardships of full unemployment.

Example Case

As opposed to laying off employees, employers can reduce employee wages by anywhere between 20% and 60%. Then, the employee can receive unemployment benefits at a percentage that's proportionate to their percentage deduction in wages.

Here is an example of the wages and benefits an employee would receive under a 20% deduction:

  Under Total Unemployment Under Shared Work
An employee who earns $400 per week in wages may receive $200 unemployment benefit rate $320 per week in wages from their employer (20% of $400 equals an $80 reduction), plus $40 in Shared Work Benefits (20% of $200)

This totals $360 in wages and Shared Work benefits combined for each week of the plan, after an unpaid waiting week.

How to Apply

To take part in the Shared Work Program, employers must first complete an application through the secure UI Online Services on their Employer Information page. According to the NYS Department of Labor, applying online will provide more accurate information and a quicker response than by email.

Employers applying for the Shared Work Program should also complete:

Instructions for completing these applications can be viewed here.

Workforce Coverage

The plan can cover your total workforce, a particular shift or shifts or specific departments or work units. You'll need to submit your application at least one week before the proposed effective date, but not more than four weeks before the proposed effective date.

Uploading Employee Data

When submitting the plan application, employers may upload the employee data from a properly formatted Microsoft Excel spreadsheet into the Shared Work Application on the Employee Information page.

How it Works

After submitting the Plan Application online, you'll get an email which must be saved, so you'll have the information needed to open the second email you'll receive when your plan is approved.

Once Plan is Approved

The second email you'll receive when you plan is approved includes an information letter and links to all the forms needed for both you and your employees. 

After a plan is approved, participating employees must file UI Shared Work claims between the Monday and Sunday of their first deduced Shared Work week. Here are their options for doing that:

  • Go to the Online Services for Individuals between the following hours
    • Monday - Thursday between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    • Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
    • Saturday all day
    • Sunday until 7:00 p.m.
  • Call 1-888-209-8124 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

Claims can be filed online or by phone in English or Spanish. (If translation services for languages other than Spanish are needed, the employee can call 518-485-6375.)

Employee Claims

Each week that your participating employees are on Shared Work, they must claim (certify) their Shared Work benefits either online at Online Services for Individuals or by mail. New York State recommends they certify online. It is convenient, and they will receive their benefit payment faster by avoiding paper mail delays. 

Both the employer and employees must certify using the same method (either paper or electronic).

Claimants who do not choose to have their benefits deposited into their personal checking accounts will be issued debit cards for their benefit payments.  The cards can be used to withdraw benefits at ATMs and MasterCard affiliated banks.  The cards also allow claimants to spend their benefits directly at retail Point-of-Sale locations.

The Shared Work weekly amount is the employee's weekly unemployment benefit rate multiplied by the percentage that the plan reduces their hours and wages.

Who Can Apply

To apply for the Shared Work Program, employers must have:

  • Employed at least 2 employees working in New York State and
  • For 4 consecutive calendar quarters, you or your predecessor must have:
    • Paid UI contributions or
    • In lieu of contributions, elected reimbursement of benefits paid to your former employees

Your Shared Work Plan must:

  • Reduce work hours and corresponding wages 20 - 60%
  • Apply to employees who normally work no more than 40 hours per week
  • Not reduce or eliminate fringe benefits unless fringe benefits are also being reduced or eliminated for the entire work force
  • Not extend beyond 53 weeks (when nearing the end of the plan, you may submit a request for a new plan)
  • Replace a layoff of an equal percentage of employees

You cannot hire additional employees for the work group covered by the plan. If there is a collective bargaining agreement in effect, the collective bargaining agent must agree to take part in the Shared Work plan.

Benefit Eligibility

Employees participate in the plan if they qualify to receive regular UI benefits in New York State. They must serve a waiting week before they receive Shared Work benefit payments. If they have already served a waiting period on an existing claim, they do not have to wait another week before collecting.

Employees covered under the plan:

  • May receive up to 26 weeks of regular Shared Work benefits during a benefit year
  • May not receive more in a benefit year from Shared Work benefits combined with regular UI benefits than they would receive under the regular UI program alone (26 times regular benefit rate)
  • Must be fully available for work for the Shared Work employer, but are not required to look for other work
  • Will reduce the amount of Shared Work benefits that they are eligible for if they work with a different employer or have self-employment
  • Are not eligible for Shared Work benefits in any week in which they receive supplemental unemployment compensation benefits (SUB pay)

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