Last year, nearly 350 Missouri employers were able to avoid layoffs using the state’s Shared-Work Program. When business is slow, Shared-Work allows companies to reduce hours and gives impacted workers access to partial unemployment benefits. As a result, nearly 30,000 Missourians kept their jobs in 2013, working part time and using unemployment benefits to help cover the reduction in wages. Even greater numbers of employees were helped during the recent recession.
But unless action is taken this week in the Missouri General Assembly, Missouri employers could lose access to the Shared-Work Program. This would likely result in Missouri employers being forced to terminate thousands of employees during periods of slow business.
“The Shared-Work Program has been an incredibly valuable tool for our state’s business community,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber President and CEO. “This program has even helped attract jobs to Missouri because it gives employers greater flexibility during hard times. It has truly been a win-win for everyone involved — Missouri workers stay on the job and our state’s businesses can retain their skilled employees. We are urging our state lawmakers to act now, during these final days of session, before this successful program disappears.”
Shared-Work is a federal program administered locally by the Missouri Department of Labor. Missouri joined the program in 1987. The federal government is requiring Missouri to update the state’s statutes to continue accessing the program. Those fixes are included in Senate Bill 844 is sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, a Republican from Springfield, and House Bill 1713 is sponsored by Rep. Jeanie Lauer, a Republican from Blue Springs. Both bills must still clear significant legislative hurdles to pass before session ends on Friday.
“The Missouri Chamber and businesses statewide have been calling for action on the Shared-Work Program,” Mehan said. “We also want to ask Missouri workers to join us in this effort. If this program goes away, our state could see thousands of positions lost in coming years. This should be a top priority for our lawmakers during these final days. Let’s make sure we don’t lose access to this valuable program.”
Note to reporters: The Missouri Chamber has been working with employers statewide to save the Shared-Work Program. If you would like to interview a local business about what Shared-Work means in your region, contact Karen Buschmann, vice president of communications, at 573-634-3511.