Yesterday, my colleague Peter Murphy and I set out to write a summary of one of Connecticut’s quiet success stories during this pandemic — the Shared Work program from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

You can find the entire article here.

What is this little program that has served an outsized role the last few weeks?

It is a program run by the Connecticut Department of Labor, and is described as:

providing an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a temporary decline in business. Rather than laying off a percentage of the workforce to cut costs, an employer may reduce the hours and wages of all or a particular group of employees. The employees whose hours and wages are reduced can receive partial unemployment insurance benefits to supplement their lost wages. These partial benefits are made possible through special eligibility regulations governing the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program.

One of the benefits of this program is that employees on this program can receive more benefits than if their employers just reduce their hours.  Higher-income earners, in particular, do much better on the program because they would otherwise be locked out of the partial unemployment program due to their salary.

The paperwork is relatively straightforward and the DOL is approving of these applcations in less than the 30 day normal waiting period.  We had one client that had their program approved in less than two weeks.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard directly from the DOL regarding some suggestions on how to fill out the application. Here are a few of their tips:

  • Make sure the application is complete; no skipped questions.
  • For Question 10: Make sure to list the percentage of reduction as 10%-60%. The specific percentage for each employee will then be set forth in the employee list at the end of the application.
  • For Questions 12 and 13 (Fringe benefits and Seniority): Be sure to answer “yes” to these questions. If an employer is removing benefits, the application will be denied.
  • For Question 17, the CTDOL only needs an estimate of how many layoffs are being avoided. As to the inclusion of a “Participation List”, the CTDOL asks to include “all employees you believe may need to be reduced. We do not put them on Shared Work until the employer submits their first payment request, due to a reduction of work. If they never receive a reduction then we do nothing.”
  • Importantly, the CTDOL reminds employers that “the plan is flexible, reduction of work can change week to week and from unit to unit as long as it stays between the 10%-60% reduction. For the employers that apply we will honor the effective date on the plan and will enter back weeks if necessary. Once they receive their approval packets by mail they will receive all of the information needed to begin the program and to submit payment requests.”

If you’re interested in this program, the CTDOL has a good landing page here or feel free to reach out to your counsel to discuss the benefits (and downsides) to this program.