CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As the pandemic took hold, Ohio business owners began turning to a state program that was put in place back in 2013 as a way for businesses to avoid laying off employees and to stay open during a downturn in the economy.
The Shared Work Ohio Layoff Aversion Program allows businesses to stay open by keeping employees on the job but at limited hours, and workers get the benefit of not being fully laid off, as they get paid for hours worked and also receive pro-rated unemployment benefits.
“It has been prior to this, kind of a best kept secret, in terms of an option for employers to avoid just full layoffs,” said ODJFS Director Kim Hall.
That best kept secret is starting to get out, especially after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine opened the door to fully financing the program through the federally funded CARES Act, which means Ohio businesses will not be charged for a portion of the benefits employees receive.
“You can still stay open, you can reduce hours across the board and you can keep your employees engaged,” Hall said.
Since mid March, just about 1,700 Shared Work Ohio plans, made by 909 employers, have been approved by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
That adds up to over 45,000 people, who may have otherwise been laid off, who are still working and receiving pro-rated unemployment benefits, or as they are called in the case of this program, Shared Work Compensation.
It is seen, by the state, as a positive development for workers who are able to stay engaged with employers in the hopes of coming back to work longer hours as the economy improves.
“They have the benefit of continuing to stay at work with their employer, you get that continued engagement, service and contribution to the economy and the workforce,” Hall said.