Lawmakers heard a lot of discussion last week about an unemployment program that would reduce employee hours in downturns, but avoid full-time layoffs. Despite some bipartisan support, it’s unlikely to be implemented in Indiana this year.
In a workshare program, employers could plan with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development so their employees could get partial unemployment benefits for lost hours of pay while keeping their jobs.
Proponents – including state and regional chambers of commerce, the Indiana Institute for Working Families, and Columbus-based Cummins Inc. – said it has little to no effect on the unemployment fund, but keeps people in the workforce and can result in more worker income than unemployment benefits alone.
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A Senate committee invited discussion on a workshare bill, but the chair, Sen. Phillip Boots (R-Crawfordsville), did not allow a vote to advance it. He expressed concerns over future administrative costs and creating more government programs.
“If you lay somebody off and they have limited skills, it gives them an opportunity to upgrade their skills,” Boots said. “If you just reduce them by 10 hours they’re probably not going to do that; they’re going to stay stuck in their old job.”
Those not in support of the bill include the Indiana Manufacturers Association, who said it was unnecessary, pointing out how rarely the program is utilized in states with workshare programs in place.
Several other workshare bills in both chambers have received no discussion.