Report by Paula Antolini, September 23, 2020, 4:43PM EDT
(MIDDLETOWN, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that as companies continue navigating the impact of the ongoing, global COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Connecticut will be expanding its Shared Work program, which helps businesses in the state prevent layoffs by allowing them to temporarily reduce employee hours and use partial unemployment benefits to supplement lost wages. The program will be expanded beginning the week of October 5, 2020.
To highlight the expansion, the governor today visited Pegasus Manufacturing, a 133-year-old design and engineering firm located in Middletown that is participating in the program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor. He was joined by Labor Deputy Commissioner Daryle Dudzinski and representatives from the company.
“COVID-19 is impacting businesses all over the world, and we are committed to working with those in Connecticut to lessen the impact and keep their workers employed,” Governor Lamont said. “This program has helped many companies over the years, and expanding it will allow these workers to keep their jobs, continue earning a paycheck, and help these Connecticut-based companies grow.”
“The impact of the pandemic is felt across Connecticut, state government must find every opportunity to support businesses and the workforce,” Deputy Commissioner Dudzinski said. “Over the past six months, Shared Work has benefited more than 24,300 workers from 1340 companies, allowing them to keep their jobs and benefits during a time of economic crisis. Employers like Pegasus Manufacturing have a skilled talent pool they don’t want to lose while waiting for economic recovery. Shared Work helps them temporarily reduce overhead without risking the human capital that makes the business successful. I want to thank Governor Lamont and Commissioner Lehman for their full support of the Shared Work program.”
The Shared Work program helps employers retain a talented workforce during economic downturns. Rather than laying off the workforce – and having to recruit, hire, and train new labor when the economy recovers – Shared Work employers are able to reduce overhead by temporarily cutting hours. Their employees keep their jobs at a reduced schedule, keep their benefits, and are able to file for partial unemployment benefits for the lost wages. Employer eligibility includes companies with two or more workers that have hourly reductions within 10 to 60 percent of normal hours, provided that the lost hours are not related to seasonal separations. Shared Work runs for a maximum of six months for each employee.
In the year prior to the pandemic – from March 2019 through March 2020 – the program served 288 companies and just under 2,900 workers. Over the past six months, the program has grown to 1,340 companies with more than 24,300 participating. An early-pandemic U.S. Department of Labor decision has renewed interest in Shared Work – the federal government will reimburse the Trust Fund for unemployment costs normally charged to the employers.
Sam Simons, co-president of OEM Controls, a Shelton-based company that is participating in the program, said, “The Shared Work program is vital for OEM Controls. It enables us to keep our highly skilled workforce employed with their benefits. We’ve used this program during economic downturns and come out better and stronger – preventing layoffs and allowing us to continue the design and manufacture of our products. The Shared Work unit has been very cooperative and helpful implementing the program for us, which has helped employee morale.”
Companies interested in participating in Shared Work must apply with the Connecticut Department of Labor. For more information on the program and the application process, click here.