From the Kent Reporter

State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, announced her support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation to strengthen and extend the state Employment Security Department’s SharedWork program for small businesses, nonprofits and local governments.

SharedWork is a voluntary business sustainability program with the state that provides flexibility to retain employees at reduced hours.

“The governor’s action to strengthen our state’s SharedWork program will remove barriers to partial employment for many workers who have been furloughed and will help keep small businesses, non-profits, and local governments solvent during this crisis,” Keiser said in a June 23 news release.

For claimants to be on SharedWork, their employers must apply to participate in the program, according to the Employment Security Department website. It allows employers to reduce hours by as much as 50 percent, while their employees collect partial benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. The state uses the SharedWork chart to deduct their earnings from their weekly benefits.

“Washington’s SharedWork is a proven win-win program that provides businesses with the flexibility to retain employees through a voluntary sustainability program,” Keiser said. “It allows employers to reduce the hours of their staff by 10% to 50%, while their workers receive unemployment benefits that can largely offset their decreased pay.”

Thousands of Washington employers have used the SharedWork program to:

• Support business stability

• Retain skilled workers

• Reduce payroll costs

• Be a smart alternative to layoffs

• Explore training programs that develop workforce skills

“Through the CARES Act, the federal government will pick up 100% of the tab for state shared work programs during the pandemic, if state laws allow,” Keiser said. “The governor’s proclamation allows our state to take full advantage of this federal funding and also spares businesses the charges they would normally incur. The SharedWork program is a strong anti-recession tool because it keeps businesses, nonprofits, local government strong; keeps money flowing into workers’ pockets; and maintains the connections between employers and their workers, making it easier for the economy to rebound when the crisis is past.”

Employers and employees must follow certain rules as part of the program, including:

• Claimants on SharedWork do not have to look for other work.

• They must be available for all work offered by their regular employer.

• Employers must continue to pay for employees’ health insurance.

• SharedWork plans last one year and have a maximum benefits payable amount.

• Employees who work fewer hours may run out of benefits more quickly.

• SharedWork participants may be eligible for benefit extensions.

Organizations can find more information about the SharedWork program at

By Steve Hunter