Bill Gives Kansas Employers Flexibility to Keep Workers

Bill Gives Kansas Employers Flexibility to Keep Workers

Plan lets employers reduce hours, use employment funds to supplement wages to full salary.

Kansas employers can keep the flexibility to keep employees at work when they would routinely be laid off because of a drop in demand for products or services thanks to a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback signed the bill at Envision in Wichita. He was joined by Heather Hogan, Vice President Corporate Development and Strategy for Envision and Lana Gordon, Kansas Secretary of Labor. 

Envision is the second largest U.S. employer of individuals who are blind or vision impaired. The company utilizes an active shared work unemployment compensation program to retain staff and avoid layoffs.

"I am pleased to sign this bill and ensure our employers have the flexibility to keep good workers in hard economic times," Governor Brownback said. "It helps protect Kansas workers by keeping them in the workforce."

The program allows employers to avoid layoffs by reducing the hours an employee works.  The employee's reduced salary is supplemented by a pro rata share of regular unemployment benefits keeping them "whole" and preserving jobs for the employees.

"I am pleased to sign this bill and ensure our employers have the flexibility to keep good workers in hard economic times," said Brownback. "It helps protect Kansas workers by keeping them in the workforce."

Participation in the plan is voluntary and employers must meet certain requirements and have their plan approved by the Secretary of Labor. The bill ensures Kansas' existing shared work program conforms to new federal requirements. Without this bill the shared work program would have ended on Aug. 23, 2014.

"Short-term compensation, or the work share program, benefits both employees and employers," said Labor Secretary Lana Gordon. "It allows employees to remain in the workforce and to receive a larger income than they would on unemployment. It benefits employers by allowing them to keep their skilled workforce and avert layoffs." 

The bill revises three of the conditions required for a shared work plan: covering regular part-time employees as well as full-time employees; employers must certify that health and retirement benefits will continue and/or remain equitable; and averted layoffs are not required to be temporary. Approximately 100 employers currently participate in shared work programs.

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