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February 2023: State of Kentucky Release Alternative to Laying Off Employee

21 Feb

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Kentucky.

What happened?
Kentucky officials rolled out a new program to help employers and employees avoid some of the burdens of a layoff during an economic downturn.

What are the details?
Having started on January 1 of this year, employers in the state can now apply for Kentucky’s Work Share Program as a temporary alternative to layoffs if your production or services have been reduced. Notably, the program allows employees to receive unemployment benefits when their wages and hours have been reduced by 10% to 40%.

The program allows employers to create a Work Share Plan for multiple areas of their business affected by a slowdown. Employers can create separate plans for various departments, shifts, or units provided two or more employees are in the affected department, shift, or unit. 

Employers also have the flexibility to stop or continue any Work Share Plan. Namely, the Work Share Program allows employers to return employees to work full-time for a week or two and then continue the plan with proper notice.

Eligibility Criteria
The Work Share Program is designed for employers who cannot maintain their usual payroll due to an economic downturn or other shortfalls and must be an alternative to layoffs. To qualify, businesses must:

  • Be legally registered in Kentucky;
  • Have an active Employer Identification Number; and
  • Meet certain requirements regarding the size of the payroll reduction.

Additionally, at least 10% of your workforce (a minimum of two employees) must be impacted, and the hour/wage reduction must be between 10% and 40% of the typical payroll. Employers that offer healthcare or retirement benefits must maintain their usual benefits or change the benefits offered to all employees, not just those facing a pay cut.

The Work Share Program also has certain restrictions regarding which employees can participate. Seasonal or part-time workers are not covered, which gives employers that rely on those workers few alternatives to layoffs in an economic crisis.

Employees affected by a Work Share Plan must:  

  1. Submit their unemployment claims through the Office of Unemployment Insurance;
  2. Be eligible for regular unemployment benefits;
  3. Accept all work offered by the participating employer; and
  4. Be able and available for work with the employer.

Additionally, eligible employees for the Work Share benefits must serve a mandatory “waiting week.”

Calculating Weekly Benefits on Shared Work
Kentucky’s Work Share Program supplements an employee’s wages with unemployment benefits equal to the percentage reduction in the employee’s work hours up to 40 hours per week. An employee who normally works overtime, however, may not receive shared work benefits for a reduction in overtime hours.

The Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet’s Unemployment Insurance Commission (UIC) provided the following example to calculate Work Share benefits:

An employee normally works a 40-hour workweek. The employee’s workweek is reduced by eight hours or 20%. If the employee had been laid off and unemployed and determined eligible for unemployment insurance, the individual would have received a weekly benefit of $270. The employer submits a Work Share Plan, and the plan is approved. Under the Work Share Program, the employee would receive $54 of benefits (or 20 percent of $270) in addition to the 32 hours of wages earned from the employer.

Qualifying employees will receive both paychecks and Work Share unemployment benefits.

Applying for a Work Share Plan
Employers can apply for a Work Share Plan here. To complete this application, you will need the following:

  • Your company’s name, address, telephone number, and the contact information for an authorized representative with signature authority;
  • A Kentucky or Federal Employment Identification Number; and
  • The completed Work Share Employee Template, included with the application, contains the names and addresses of all participating employees you want to enroll in the plan.

For more information, please see the links below:

Kentucky Workshare Program

Article

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above, and if they are interested in the workshare program, they should click the Kentucky Workshare Program above for admission.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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