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Work Share Legislation Aims to give Employment Commission Another Tool to Save Jobs

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Friday members of a House committee advanced a bill that would make the state eligible for federal funds to help establish a work-share program. Experts say the initiative could ultimately help save jobs in Virginia.

The idea of work-sharing is pretty straightforward: instead of laying off workers, employers experiencing slowdowns can cut their hours. In turn, the workers can collect prorated unemployment to make up for the losses, while still keeping their benefits.

Megan Healy is the state’s chief workforce development advisor. She says the program would help everyone, including the Virginia Employment Commission. "It’s really important for us to have another tool at VEC to help businesses and workers and the state."

A key provision in the bill is the removal of a sunset clause that was put in place when legislation that laid the groundwork for the program passed earlier this year. As it is now, that clause is keeping the state from accessing CARES Act funds. 

Jeremy McPike is sponsoring the bill on the Senate side. "When the agency reached out to apply for roughly $2.7 million, the indication was because it had a sunset clause, Virginia would no longer be eligible. This fixes that," McPike said Friday.

The measure also delays the program’s start until 2022 to give the already-strapped VEC more time to prepare.

A companion bill has already passed the House and is now in the Senate.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.