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Indiana Chamber Legislative Priority

The Strong Case for Work Share Now

Listen to WFYI’s “All IN” program devoted to work share on May 21, 2020.

Our state government leaders are showing exemplary leadership in guiding the state’s health and economic recovery from COVID-19. Choosing not to implement work share, however, is a missed opportunity to assist Indiana employers and their employees. Many Hoosier companies are using work share effectively for their operations in other states. It’s most unfortunate that they do not currently have that opportunity in Indiana.

What is work share? In short, a voluntary and cost-effective alternative to traditional unemployment. Instead of laying off a number of employees entirely during an economic downturn, an employer can retain those workers and instead reduce the hours of all employees or those of a particular group or department. Those employees then draw a partial unemployment compensation benefit based upon the hours reduced. Our one-pager, Strong Case for Work Share, further outlines benefits for employees, employers and the state.

What is Indiana missing out on that the 28 work share states are currently receiving? The federal government – through the CARES Act – would be paying 100% of all work share benefits from now until the end of 2020! Workers in the 28 work share states are able to receive the partial unemployment benefits AND the $600 per week in extra federal support that is available through July 31. In other words, additional dollars will be circulating in the economies of those states – but not in Indiana. With Kentucky recently adopting its program, Indiana is now surrounded by work share states. A detailed example of the work share benefits under the CARES Act is available in our Work Share: How It Works brief.

What if Indiana adopts a work share law in the 2021 legislative session or a limited special session? The CARES Act appropriates $100 million for non-work-share states to pay for the costs of developing computer systems and other administrative costs of establishing a work share program. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s past rationale of saying it would cost too much money to implement the program (though minuscule in comparison to the economic impacts today) is rendered moot by the federal grants now available. The continued opposition of the Indiana Manufacturers Association is equally baffling and disappointing – especially knowing that we share member companies who are strong supporters of work share.

We are encouraged by Governor Holcomb’s recent remarks indicating a willingness to re-examine the issue. We hope the state reconsiders its position in the coming months, before the General Assembly reconvenes, in order to be better prepared for future economic downturns.

Contact: Mike Ripley leads the efforts on this issue on behalf of our Chamber members and investors. You can reach him at (317) 919-6456 or [email protected].