The Work Share Program (Colorado Employment Security Act 8-75-201 through 8-75-208) gives Colorado Employers an alternative to laying off employees. The program allows employees to keep working, but with fewer hours. While employees are working fewer hours they are eligible to receive part of their regular unemployment benefits.
Employers figure out how many hours they can continue to pay and employees share those hours as part of the work share plan.
The work share program can include all employees, or employees from a certain unit. It depends on the employer's needs for their employees.
About the Plan
Employers must have a positive percent of excess in order to sign up for the Work Share Program. That means an employer must have paid as much in premiums as the Division paid the employer's former employees in benefits. The employer's percent of excess is on the rate notice they receive in the mail each November.
Work share plans run for 12 months (52 weeks) if approved. The Division can end a plan early if an employer no longer meets the requirements of the Work Share Program. If that happens, the Division will send the employer a correspondence that states the day the plan was ended.
Work Share Program Requirements
Employers applying for the Work Share Program must meet the following requirements. Please be aware that the Division can end a work share plan early if an employer no longer meets these requirements:
- The employer is applying to be in the Work Share Program instead of laying off employees.
- The employer will not lay off any employees in the affected unit due to a lack of work while participating in the Work Share Plan. The Division has the discretion to end the plan early if this occurs.
- The employer is reducing the hours of at least 2 employees in a certain unit.
- The employers is reducing the work hours of that group by at least 10 percent, but by no more than 50 percent.
- The employer will not hire or have other employees work in that group.
- The employees’ collective-bargaining agent (union), if any, must agree to the plan.
- The employer cannot get rid of or reduce employees’ benefits that are currently provided. These benefits include health insurance, retirement/pension benefits, vacation pay and holidays, sick leave, and any other similar benefits the employer normally provides.
Employers will have to certify that they understand all of these requirements on the Work-Share Plan application.
Applying for the Work Share Program
Employers can apply for the Work-Share Program in MyUI Employer+. Click the “Work Share” tab in the left-hand navigation menu, then click the “Create Work Share” subtab and follow the instructions provided on each screen.
The Division will review the application and notify the employer whether the plan is approved.
The advantages of the Work Share Program include:
- The ability to continue production and maintain quality levels.
- Retention of experienced staff.
- Ease of returning to full production when economic conditions are better.
- Lower costs for hiring and training new employees.
- Protecting affirmative-action gains.
- Higher employee morale.
- The opportunity for employees to keep their skills and chances to move up within the business.
Some disadvantages of the Work Share Program may include:
- Employees may lose their chance to find full-time jobs with another company.
- It might be harder to schedule employees’ work hours.
- Senior employees have fewer hours and less income.
The UI Division can pay employees part of the unemployment benefits they could get for a given week in which their work hours were reduced. The Division looks at the percentage of how much the employer has reduced employees' hours, and pays them the percentage of the benefits they are entitled to depending on the hours worked and other eligibility factors.
For example: An employer plans to lay off two employees. The employees may have earned enough for the Division to pay them each $250 a week. Instead of laying the employees off, the employer reduces the employees' hours and pay by 10%. The Division pays 10% of the employees' unemployment benefits (in this case $25 each) for each week the employees work the reduced schedule. The employees get their pay from the employer and their work share benefits from the Division.
The Division can pay employees up to 26 weeks of work share benefits. The Division is not looking at hours and earnings from other employers.
The employer plan year and employee claim year are independent of each other. The employee claim goes into effect based on when the employee files the claim. If the start date of the employee claim is later than when the work share plan is effective, the employee will not receive benefits for the week(s) prior to the effective date of the claim.
On a weekly basis, employers are responsible to report the hours worked and approved leave for each employee included in the work share plan. The Benefit Week, also referred to as the Claim Week, runs Sunday through Saturday. Employers certify the Benefit Week starting on Sunday in order to receive benefits for the previous week.
When a separation occurs during an active work share plan, the employer is responsible to report the separation to the Division at the time it occurs by submitting a plan modification in MyUI Employer+. (See how to modify a work share plan).
If the employee is no longer receiving hours from the Work Share employer and wants to continue to receive regular unemployment benefits, they are required to report it to the Division at the time of separation.
The employee should:
- Click the "Work Share Separation" link in the left-hand navigation menu of their MyUI+ Home Page to report the separation. Note; This link is only displayed when the employee is a part of an active Work Share plan.
- Click the "Reopen Claim" link in the left-hand navigation menu of their MyUI+ Home Page. Note: This link is only displayed once the employee is no longer part of an active Work Share plan.