State of Oregon Streamlines Little-Known Part-Time Unemployment Program

Guest Blog Post By Karen Tolvstad

When faced with the prospect of layoffs, employers often feel overwhelmed or disempowered, completely at the whim of the marketplace.

We recently became aware that the Oregon Employment Department has enhanced a program that provides an alternative to layoffs. The “Work Share” program allows part-time unemployment benefits to be paid to employees whose hours are reduced as a part of a plan to keep the workforce intact. Staff members stay employed and keep their benefits, and the business stays ready to accommodate the next boost in the market.

The program isn’t widely known, and in the past, some said it was cumbersome to use. But with a grant from the Department of Labor, the Employment Department streamlined the program making it much easier to access and to comply with, making it an even better option for manufacturers experiencing a lull in business.

Download The Fact Sheet

New Materials Issued by the State List the Following Core Benefits of the Program: 

1.) Saves Employers Money

For every employee you retain, you’re saving costly rehiring and training expenses, not to mention the flexibility of being able to go back to full time and full staff without having to accommodate recruitment lead times. Staying nimble in the market is key to business success.

2.) Keeps Employees, Employed- and Lets Them Know They’re Valued

Your employees are your business. With Work Share you can honor them and their commitment to your team by avoiding layoffs. You only need 3 or more employees to opt in to the program. Through the program they:

  • Keep their jobs during a slowdown
  • Maintain their benefits
  • Receive funding to help make up for lost wages
  • Are not required to look for additional work
  • Are provided the flexibility of a shortened workweek/reduced hours (20-40% reduction) which might allow for a better work/life balance
  1. Streamlined Participation Process

A simple two-page program plan is all you now need to start your Work Share application. Then your participating staff members file an initial claim and after a short review period, begin receiving partial unemployment insurance benefits to make up for lost wages. While on the program, employers send in one, weekly certification that covers all participating employees. These streamlined administrative processes make participation easy, so you can focus on your business.

Unemployment Insurance Payroll Taxes are often seen as a necessary evil, and only as a safeguard for employees who may be laid off.  Work Share is a unique program in that it allows employers’ payroll taxes to benefit their business, as well their employees. We think it’s definitely worth looking into as a possible option for slow times.

To find out more about the program, visit a new information site at:  OregonWorkShare.org