Monday, June 10, 2013

GUEST COLUMN: "Shared Work Program Keeps Ohio Workers on the Job"

St. Rep. John Becker
BY: St. Rep. John Becker

In April, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent. While this is below the national average of 7.5 percent, we need to continue efforts to keep Ohioans on the job and working. I am a firm believer that economic stability is determined by the job market.

I am pleased with the passage of legislation I believe will aid in lowering the unemployment rate even further. I believe House Bill 37 has the potential to improve the conditions of the job market, specifically with the provision creating the SharedWork Ohio program.

Under SharedWork Ohio, rather than an employee being laid off, he or she can instead continue working with reduced hours. That employee can then collect unemployment benefits to make up the difference for the hours that were cut. In many cases, workers will even keep their existing healthcare and retirement benefits with our proposed shared work plan.

Participating employers must submit a plan to the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The plan must be in lieu of layoffs and cannot exceed the total unemployment cost of a traditional layoff.

Ultimately, this program will be less expensive for employers. Traditional layoffs often result in higher unemployment premiums, but the shared work plan will cost less for employers due to reimbursements from the federal government until 2015.

Employers must opt to participate in SharedWork Ohio, but the choice is clear to me. Twenty-five other states have adopted similar programs. Hopefully, after Senate consideration, Ohio will be the next state to take action to reduce the number of laid-off workers.

Within the past seven years, too many Americans have faced the harsh reality of joblessness. While our nation’s economy has improved significantly, layoffs and unemployment still threaten some. With the passage of House Bill 37, we have the ability to reduce the number of those without jobs and continue towards a prosperous and economically sound Ohio.