Business owners should consider the benefits of the Shared Work Program in bringing back staff after being allowed to reopen. The Shared Work Program gives employers an alternative to laying off employees when they have a downturn in business. Rather than laying off a percentage of the workforce to cut costs, an employer can reduce the hours and wages of all or a group of employees. The employees whose hours and wages are reduced receive partial unemployment benefits to supplement their lost wages.

The Shared Work Program allows employers to reduce the hours and wages of all or a particular group of employees by no less than 20% and no more than 60%. Normally this program is used by companies going from full staff to reduced staffing, but the Department of Labor has confirmed that the Shared Work Program can be used as businesses reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown. This would allow your employees to return to work on a partial schedule, continuing to receive partial unemployment insurance benefits, and receiving the full federal pandemic $600 per week UI bonus (until it runs out at the end of July). Employers need to submit a Shared Work Plan for approval to the Department of Labor. Once your plan is approved – typically takes a few weeks – you can begin implementing it.