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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19

Shared Work Program

T + T

Summary

The NYS Shared Work Program allows employers to retain their employees during times of temporary business downturns by reducing an employees’ hours and earnings, but avoiding layoffs. This allows employees to receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while continuing to work at reduced hours.

Both employers and employees must meet certain qualifications, as set forth below. Only employees who are eligible for regular UI benefits are entitled to receive the shared work benefits (PUA recipients are not eligible) and must certify weekly to obtain benefits.

For a NYS DOL FAQ, visit: https://dol.ny.gov/how-file-claim-under-shared-work-program.

Description of the Shared Work Program

WHAT IT IS

Rather than laying off a percentage of the workforce to cut costs during a temporary business downturn, the Shared Work Program allows businesses to reduce the hours and wages of all or a group of employees. The employees whose hours and wages have been reduced can receive partial unemployment benefits to support their lost wages, while also collecting a reduced paycheck. This program allows employers to maintain their trained and experienced workforce, while giving them the ability to gear up quickly when conditions improve. For additional information visit: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/SW1.pdf.

BENEFIT AMOUNT

The weekly benefit amount is the individual’s UI regular benefit rate multiplied by the percentage that their hours and wages are reduced under the employer’s Shared Work Plan.

The additional $600 in weekly PUC benefits are also paid to recipients in the Shared Work program through the benefit week ending July 26, 2020.

Employees who participate in a shared work plan may receive up to 26 weeks of benefits during a benefit year.

Maximum Earnings Amount

Unlike regular UI benefits there is no limit on the amount of earnings a Shared Work participant can earn in one week while still being paid Shared Work benefits. As long as the individual’s work hours and wages are reduced by 20% to 60% in a given week, s/he may collect Shared Work benefits for that week.

Working as Self-Employed or for a Different Company

However, participants in the Shared Work program who work for a different employer (other than their Shared Work employer) during the time their employer is participating in the Shared Work Program or who work as a self-employed individual will have their Shared Work benefits reduced. If this is the case, for each day of work while self-employed or working for an employer other than his/her Shared Work employer, the individual will lose one-quarter of his/her Shared Work benefits.

Case Example

Skip’s employer is participating in the NYS Shared Work Program. His hours/earnings were reduced by 40%. His salary is reduced by 40% and is earning $1,200 per week (60% of his former pay) while he continues to work 3 days per week for his Shared Work employer. He is able to collect 40% of his regular UI benefit, which totals $300 per week.
Skip finds employment for one day per week at another company earning $400 per day, which must be reported when he certifies for his Shared Work benefit. His benefit will be reduced by 25%, thus reducing his Shared Work benefit to $225 per week.

Contesting the Benefit Amount

After the individual has filed their first Shared Work claim (see below, Applying for Benefits, Employees), an initial Monetary Determination will be mailed to the individual, showing their wages over the past 18 months that were used to calculate their benefit rate. If they believe that the rate is incorrect or needs to be recalculated, they can contact the Shared Work Unit at (518) 485-6375. They can also correct incomplete or missing wages by using the Request for Reconsideration form found on our website in the Unemployment Insurance Forms section. Refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance, Advocacy and Appeals, Requesting a Reconsideration – Incorrect Earnings Information.

ACCESSING THE BENEFIT

Individuals can select to receive benefits either through a debit card or direct deposit (deposited directly into the claimant’s checking account). Claimants will select their choice when they first file a claim.

Claimants will be able to change from direct debit card to direct deposit, or vice versa, by going to their online account and sign on with their NY.GOV ID username and password.
Claimants may find ATM’s to access their benefit payment without any fees at ALL point ATM locator at https://www.key.com/locations/search.

Qualifying for the Shared Work Program

EMPLOYER QUALIFICATIONS

  • Must employ at least two full-time employees working in NYS; and
  • Must have paid UI contributions for 4 consecutive calendar quarters, or
    • In lieu of contributions, elected to reimburse benefits paid to their former employees
  • Must create a Shared Work Plan, which must be approved by the NYS DOL. Employers can use a Shared Work plan for one or more of their departments, shifts or units. All employees in an affected unit must be included in the program and be reduced at the same rate during each week of the Shared Work Plan. A Shared Work Plan must conform to the following conditions:
    • Apply to employees who normally work no more than 40 hours per week;
      • Shared Work benefits are only for wages lost because of a reduction in the employee’s normal work hours, typically no more than 40 hours per week.
    • Reduce employees’ work hours by no more than 60%, but not less than 20%
      • Employers may subsequently change the percentage of their employee’s work hours and/or they may also return workers to a full schedule for a week or more and then resume the plan.
      • Employers may also remove people from the affected work unit.
    • Prevents an employer from laying off workers who remain at work. However, the employer can modify their Shared Work plan by increasing the percentage of the reduced work hours and wages to avoid layoffs.
    • Not reduce or eliminate fringe benefits, including health, medical insurance, and retirement, unless fringe benefits are also reduced or eliminated for the entire workforce;
    • Not hire additional employees for the work group that is covered by the Shared Work Plan.
      • The law only prohibits employers from hiring additional employees to work in an affected unit. However, employers can hire replacements for employees who leave while the plan is in effect.
    • Not extend beyond 53 weeks (when nearing the end of the plan, the company may submit a request for a new plan);
    • The plan lets the employer choose the areas involved. However, the employer must apply reductions in hours and wages equally to all of the employees in a participating unit or department.
    • May reduce the hours and wages of employees of different departments or units by different percentages, if specified in the plan.
      • The percentage of reduction may vary from unit to unit or week to week.
        Be in lieu of a layoff for an equivalent percentage of employees;
        *
        The plan must include the names and SSN of all participating employees, their normal weekly hours and whether or not they are seasonal, temporary or intermittent employees.
  • If there is a collective bargaining agreement in effect, the collective bargaining agent must agree to take part in the Shared Work plan.
Case Example

A company has 13 full-time employees. Two administrative staff, 8 sales staff, one attorney, one financial officer, and the CEO. The company reduces the sales staff by 50% for 3 months and the administrative staff by 40% for 3 months. Both sets of employees can file for UI benefits; the sales staff can collect 50% of their UI benefit and 50% of their regular pay; and the administrative staff can collect 40% of their UI benefit and 60% of their regular pay. The other workers are able to maintain their full hours and will not collect UI benefits.

EMPLOYEE QUALIFICATIONS

  • Must be eligible for regular UI benefits in NYS;
    • Individuals in receipt of PUA benefits are not entitled to the Shared Work Program
  • Must be fully available to work for the Shared Work employer,
    • Are not required to look for other work;
  • May not receive more in a benefit year from the Shared Work benefits combined with regular UI benefits than they would receive under the regular UI benefit alone (26 times the regular benefit rate.)
  • Are not eligible for Shared Work benefits in any week in which they receive Supplemental Unemployment Compensation benefits (SUB pay)
  • Must physically work at least one day with the Shared Work employer in a particular week.

Applying for the Shared Work Program

EMPLOYERS

Employers must complete a Shared Work Plan, which can be completed online. (A Shared Work plan may be modified after it has been approved by DOL, including the number of hours an employee’s hours are reduced.) The application must be filed at least one week, but no more than fou"r weeks, before the start date of the plan. Visit: https://dol.ny.gov/online-services-employers-0 to sign-in":https://dol.ny.gov/online-services-employers-0 to sign-in or create an account. To view the terms and conditions for businesses, visit: https://labor.ny.gov/ui/Authentication/general/terms-and-conditions-for-businesses.shtm For question about the application process contact the Liability & Determination Section at 518-457-2635, e-mail at sharedworkinfo@labory.ny.gov, or write to:

New York State Department of Labor
Unemployment Insurance Division
Liability and Determination Section
State Office Campus
Albany, NY 11240

EMPLOYEES

Once an employer’s Shared Work Plan has been approved, the employer will notify the affected employees so they can file a claim. Employees must file their claim during the first reduced Shared Work week. They can file between the Monday and Sunday by going online at https://labor.ny.gov/signin. Individuals must sign in with their NY.gov ID username and password. If they do not have an NY.gov ID account they will be able to establish one when they visit the website. Or they can call 1-888-209-8124 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 7:30 pm (this includes Spanish speaking clients). If translation services for languages other than Spanish are needed, the employee can call 518-485-6375.

WHEN BENEFITS WILL BEGIN

Benefits will begin on the date specified in the employer’s application form or the first Monday following DOL’s approval of the plan, whichever date is later. Shared Work Plan benefits cannot be retroactive.

For a NYS DOL fact sheet, including how employers can apply for the Shared Work program, visit: https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/ui/SW1.pdf..

Certifying for Benefits

EMPLOYER

Employers must log in to their UI Online Services Account, go to Shared Work, click on “Weekly Certification” and follow the prompts.

EMPLOYEE

Both the employer and the employee must certify weekly to receive benefits. Employees can file at https://labor.ny.gov/signin, select Unemployment Services and select “Certify to Claim Your Weekly Benefits Here.”