The New York State Department of Labor today announced that so far this year, nearly 2,600 businesses have joined the state’s Shared Work program, which allows companies to avoid layoffs by connecting workers with partial unemployment benefits. In total, these companies have leveraged the program to retain or rehire nearly 45,500 New Yorkers — the majority of them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the DOL announced over $31 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid to more than 3.1 million New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic — amounting to over 14 years’ worth of benefits paid in just over four months.
“This public health crisis has upended our lives and economy, but New Yorkers are finding ways to support each other and build back stronger than ever. Our Shared Work program helps businesses weather tough times like this, while preventing New Yorkers from losing their jobs,” Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “This program is a crucial resource that is helping thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of New Yorkers navigate these difficult times — and as the economy continues to reopen, we hope more businesses take advantage of this program.”
The Shared Work program is designed to help businesses manage the impact of economic downturns, while sparing workers from losing their income and other benefits like health insurance. Employers who are considering layoffs or furloughs can instead keep employees at work with reduced hours while allowing workers to receive partial unemployment benefits for 26 weeks to make up for lost work. Companies that are re-opening but facing reduced demand can also leverage the program to rehire their entire workforce with reduced hours.
So far this year, 2,580 employers have joined New York State’s Shared Work program, compared to just 195 last year — an increase of 1,223%. In total, 45,455 employees have received Shared Work benefits in 2020, up from just 2,000 between January and June 2019.
In addition to keeping New Yorkers employed and helping businesses control costs during downturns, Shared Work allows businesses to retain skilled employees — avoiding the expense of eventually recruiting, hiring, and training new workers when the economy recovers. Employers and workers can learn more about the Shared Work program at dol.ny.gov/shared-work-program-0.
The DOL also released a new fact sheet on the Extended Benefits Program in New York, which became effective July 5, 2020. Thanks to the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Extended Benefits (EB) programs, New Yorkers receiving traditional Unemployment Insurance are now eligible for up to 59 weeks of benefits — up from 26 weeks before the pandemic. Under federal law, those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are now eligible for up to 46 weeks of benefits.
To be eligible for EB, claimants must first exhaust all 26 weeks of traditional unemployment insurance benefits and all 13 weeks of PEUC benefits (a total of 39 weeks of benefits) and continue to be unemployed. Alternatively, if a claimant’s benefit year for regular unemployment insurance expired after July 1, 2019 and they received the 13 weeks of PEUC benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be eligible for 20 weeks of Extended Benefits.
For updates about the PEUC and EB programs, New Yorkers should continue to check the Department of Labor website at www.labor.ny.gov.