The U.S. Department of Labor has nearly $100 million available for grants to help states implement "work sharing" programs that can give struggling employers an alternative to laying off workers.
Utah’s share of the funding is $870,818, but the state has yet to decide whether to take advantage of the grant money.
"We don’t have a program like that right now, although we are studying the possibility of launching one," said Curt Stewart, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Service.
Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers avoid laying off trained workers during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for the affected workers. Those with reduced hours can have their wages supplemented with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments.
According to the Labor Department, one-third of the grant money for each state will be used to implement or improve a short-time compensation program, and two-thirds will be available to promote and enroll employers.
"This program is a win-win for businesses and employees alike," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "Establishing or expanding work-sharing programs nationwide will help business owners better weather hard economic times by temporarily reducing their labor costs, while still keeping their existing skilled employees."
Funding for the program was made available through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February.
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