As employers evaluate options to address the impact of COVID-19 on their organizations, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is encouraging participation in its Work-Share Program.
The Work-Share Program is designed to help employers avoid layoffs of at least two employees by reducing employees’ hours during slow business periods of up to six months. The state has adopted legislation relaxing some of the program’s requirements to make it more accessible for employers during the pandemic. Through December 31, 2020, the thresholds for work-share plans have been simplified and lowered, as follows:
- the plans are no longer restricted to a particular work unit;
- the plans normally apply to the greater of 20 positions or 10% of the employees in a work unit, but now the plans may cover at least two employees; and
- the participating employees’ reductions in hours previously could not exceed 50%, but now the participating employees’ hours may be reduced by 10-60%.
The intent of the program is to keep employees working and covered on employee benefit plans, while also allowing them to receive unemployment benefits. Participating employees are eligible for state and federal unemployment benefits, including employees earning more than $500/week from any employer/s who would otherwise be ineligible for unemployment. In addition, employers are required to maintain the participating employees’ health insurance coverage and coverage under any defined benefit or defined contribution retirement plan under the same terms and conditions that applied before participation in the work-share plan.
To participate, employers must submit an application to the DWD. The application must outline, among other things, information about the employees who will participate in the plan and the reduction in the employees’ hours. DWD has dedicated staff to handle questions about the Work-Share Program and is expediting the review of work-share applications.
The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide updates as they are available. Check out our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-333-5253.