Alternative to Slow-Period Layoffs:
NJ Program Helps Maintain Your Workforce
Businesses that are thinking about laying off employees because of a slowdown in activity—but fear losing talented labor or getting socked with an increased Unemployment Insurance (UI) tax rate—may have an alternative, thanks to an innovative state program. Under the “shared-work” legislation a company that has to slice payroll expense by significantly cutting employees’ work hours may be able to have the NJ Department of Labor partially offset workers’ reduced pay by giving them “short-time” unemployment benefits.
Employers may find that their UI tax rate is lower under the “short-time” approach, compared to having laid-off employees collect full unemployment. In addition to getting at least some of their pay, employees will be able to keep their health insurance and other benefits while they work fewer hours.
Here’s the fine print
For each company, the state may approve the program for a period no longer than one year and may, upon employer request, renew the approval of the program for additional periods. Of course, there are certain filing and other requirements. For one thing, the business needs to complete a formal Shared-Work Plan Application and submit it to the New Jersey Department of Labor, Shared-Work Approval Unit (the application is available at NJ Department of Labor, Shared-Work Application).
The business must have at least 10 employees; and the “affected unit” of the company—a specified plant or other facility, department, shift or other definable unit, must be composed of two or more employees. Among other requirements, the reduction in weekly work hours of the affected employees must be not less than 10% and not more than 60% of the “usual weekly hours of work”.
Not everyone’s eligible
Some kinds of employment—like subsidized seasonal employment during off-season, and employment that is temporary or intermittent on an ongoing basis—are not eligible for this program.
This program could cut payroll expenses for some businesses while enabling them to retain valued employees during a time of economic disruption. Still, disclosure, documentation, UI costs and other issues should be considered. Please contact one of our CPAs to see if this program is suitable for you.