Friday, July 12, 2013

Kasich signs SharedWork Ohio, trades work hour cuts for unemployment benefits


COLUMBUS – After passing the Ohio House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, House Bill 27 was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kasich.

The SharedWork Ohio Program allows employers to reduce employee work hours in lieu of lay-offs while making employees eligible to unemployment compensation payments to offset lost wages. The bill was declared to be an emergency measure and went into effect immediately after it was signed into law.

According to a summary of the bill published by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, the Department of Job and Family Services could implement the SharedWork Ohio Program as soon as the U.S. Department of Labor certified that the program complies with the federal law.

The federal Layoff Prevention Act of 2012 permits a state to receive federal funding to create a program under which an employer reduces the hours worked by the employer's employees in lieu of laying off those employees.

Under continuing law, partial unemployment benefits are payable to an employee who satisfies all of the programs requirements including:

(1) Have worked in covered employment for at least 20 qualifying weeks within the individual's base period
(2) Have had an average weekly wage of 27½% of the statewide average weekly wage within the base period currently, a minimum of $230
(3) Have become unemployed for a reason that is not a disqualifying reason
(4) Be able to, available for, and actively seeking work
(5) Be a United States citizen or legal alien

The Senate version, SB 25 was cosponsored by State Sen. Bob Peterson whose 17th District includes the western of Vinton County.

“Creating a shared work program in Ohio will give companies such as the Kenworth Trucking Company in Chillicothe an additional tool to retain skilled workers instead of losing them through layoffs, and then having to find and retrain new employees,” Peterson said. “In addition, my proposal is designed to be budget neutral, as any employer who chooses not to participate will retain their option for layoffs.”

The story will be updated with comments from State Sen. Lou Gentile and Rep. Debbie Phillips as soon as they are available.

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