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All businesses go through slowdowns. Often that means layoffs, but that doesn’t have to be the answer.

The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, a department within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, can help a company keep valuable workers.

WorkShare gives employers a way to save jobs that would otherwise be cut by allowing businesses to reduce the hours of permanent employees, who can then collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.  This translates into immediate payroll savings and prevents the loss of skilled employees.

Gentle Giant Moving Company used WorkShare during the Great Recession in 2008

“We were trying to preserve jobs and strengthen the organization to get through the difficult time. WorkShare strengthened the company finances and employee morale…this not only helped us save money, but also galvanized the workforce to realize we were going to weather this storm together.”  – Ryan Falvey, V.P. of Organizational Development Gentle Giant Moving Company

WorkShare is a flexible solution – a company decides how to implement the WorkShare program to best meet their business needs:

How it Works:

►With Workshare, employees share reduced work hours while collecting partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to supplement their temporary lower wages.

►When business picks up companies avoid the extra costs of recruiting and training new workers.

When companies use WorkShare:

  • Trained employees stay working
  • Extra costs of recruiting and training new workers are avoided
  • Business keeps running smoothly and is poised for a heavier workload

Who participates in WorkShare?

WorkShare is for any company in Massachusetts, non-profit organization, or government agency. Businesses in every sector, including manufacturing, construction, retail, and high-tech, can benefit from WorkShare.

Where can WorkShare be implemented? – It can be the entire company, department, unit or shift. Only permanent full-time or part-time workers are eligible. There is no limit to the number of participants. Each plan must have at least two employees.

When a company uses WorkShare

  • The hours of all workers in the unit must be reduced by the same amount
  • Workers must apply for regular unemployment benefits in Massachusetts

What percentage of reduction in hours is allowed – Employees’ work hours can be reduced between 10 and 60 percent.  It must be the same for each employee in the affected area. If hours are reduced by 20%, the affected employees will work 32 hours instead of 40 hours. The 20% reduction in wages will be supplemented through unemployment benefits.

Can WorkShare be customized? – A company can have more than one WorkShare plan at the same time with different reduction in hours for different affected areas.  However, employees cannot be on more than one plan at the same time.

Who should use WorkShare? While this program is very popular in difficult economic times, it can help businesses facing short-term slowdown at any time for:

  • Manufacturers with a gap between projects or awaiting regulatory approvals
  • Professional service companies in between contracts
  • Retailers facing temporary slowdowns due to local construction or client turnover
  • Non-profits facing a slow fundraising cycle
  • Any business facing an unexpected change in business patterns

How long can a company use WorkShare – The start and end dates are entirely up to you within the 26-week plan period. The average WorkShare duration is 10 weeks. You can modify or cancel WorkShare anytime by contacting the WorkShare Department.

While employees are working reduced hours through WorkShare, you must maintain the same benefits, including health insurance and defined retirement benefits for participating employees.Workshare logo

Written By:


Communications Director

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