Q: What is the Shared Work Program?
A: The Shared Work Program gives employers an alternative to laying off workers during business downturns by allowing them to work a reduced work schedule and collect a Shared Work benefit. Instead of cutting staff, you can equally reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group.
Q: Are seasonal, intermittent or temporary employees eligible for the Shared Work Program?
A: Seasonal employees perform work for an employer whose business has predictable, seasonal high and low levels of employment.
Q: What if my business doesn’t meet the criteria for a Shared Work Program? For instance, what if I reduce fringe benefits?
A: Shared Work is a voluntary program. If your business does not meet the requirements for beginning a Shared Work Program, the program will not be approved by the Department of Labor.
Q: When will the Shared Work Plan begin?
A: On the date specified on your application form or the first Monday following our approval of the plan, whichever date is later. Submit your application less than one month before the proposed start date. It must be submitted before the desired plan starting date. A Shared Work Plan cannot be retroactive.
Q: What should employees do once a plan is approved?
A: Employees that do not have an existing Unemployment Insurance claim must file one during their first reduced week under your Shared Work plan in order to start receiving benefits. Employees must file online at www.labor.ny.gov/signin.
Q: What if I, as the employer in the Shared Work program, am having problems with my Online Services account?
A: Employers who need assistance with creating a new Unemployment Insurance Online Services account or signing in with a previously created NY.gov ID should call 518-485-6076.
Q: Can an employer lay off some workers who were originally in the plan and still keep the remainder in the plan?
A: Yes. Shared Work would still prevent the layoffs of the remaining employees, which is the program's intent, but you could reduce the hours and wages of the employees further to avoid any layoffs.
Q: Once the Shared Work Plan is in effect, can an employer hire a replacement for an employee who leaves to work for another employer?
A: Yes. The law only prohibits you from hiring additional employees to work in an affected unit. You can hire replacements for employees who leave the company while the plan is in effect.
Q: If an employer chooses Shared Work, must it apply to the whole business or company?
A: No, you can use Shared Work in one or more departments, shifts, or units. The plan gives you the flexibility to choose the areas involved. You must apply the reductions in hours and wages equally to all of the employees in the chosen unit or department. However, you may reduce the hours and wages of employees in different departments or units by different percentages, if specified in the plan.
Q: How many work units can I create?
A: While you can submit a plan with all of your employees in one unit, we generally recommend creating smaller units specific to particular jobs or shifts. This will allow you the flexibility to reduce or not reduce employees as business cycles demand.
Q: Can Corporate officers be included in the Shared Work plan?
A: Officers of a corporation may be approved to participate in the shared work plan of the business through December 27, 2020. Please contact the Liability and Determination Section at 518-457-2635 for more information.
Q: Can employees who normally work overtime receive Shared Work benefits for a reduction in their overtime hours?
A: No. Shared Work benefits are only for wages lost because of a reduction in the employee's "normal work" hours. "Normal work" hours are normally no more than 40 hours per week.
Q: What effect will Shared Work benefits have on an employer's Unemployment Insurance rate?
A: While Shared Work benefits are normally charged against an employer’s experience rating account, for claims filed between March 30, 2020 and December 27, 2020, Shared Work benefits are federally funded, and no charges will be applied to the employer’s account, with the exception of temporary, intermittent or seasonal employees. The additional $600 in weekly benefits paid to eligible Shared Work participants through the week ending July 26, 2020 will also be 100% federally funded.
Q: Is an employer required to file reports while the Shared Work Plan is in effect?
A: Yes. You and your participating employees must certify each week. This makes sure that each employee is paid the proper Shared Work benefit amount.
Q: Can employees receive Shared Work benefits if their hours and wages are reduced less than 20% or more than 60%?
A: No. However, those employees may be eligible to receive partial benefits under the regular unemployment insurance program.
Q: If the employer's Shared Work Plan expires but the employees still work a reduced work schedule, can they still receive Shared Work benefits?
A: No. Shared Work benefits are only payable while the plan is in effect. You should make arrangements - before the plan expiration date - to apply for a new plan. This will prevent interruption of payments.
Q: Can people in the Shared Work Program have income tax withheld from Shared Work benefits?
A: People can choose to have both federal and New York State income tax withheld from their benefits when they file their Shared Work unemployment insurance claim. If they choose to have taxes withheld, the withholding amount is set at 10% for federal taxes and 2.5% for New York State taxes. Taxes withheld will be reported on a 1099-G statement that is mailed after the end of the year.
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