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Shared Work Program moves forward in House and Senate

Wednesday was a good day for backers of legislation that makes necessary changes to the Missouri Shared Work Program.

Senate Bill 844 was Third Read and Passed in the State Senate by a 30-0 margin. Meanwhile, House Bill 1713, an identical bill to SB 844, passed a first round voice vote in the House of Representatives.

Associated Industries of Missouri has made passage of the legislation a priority and had issued a legislative alert to State Senators in support of the legislation. In addition, voices of Missouri employers obviously helped as the legislation on this important issue has gone from stalled, to on-the-move in a very short time.

SB 844 and HB 1713 make changes to the Missouri Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program that are necessary to comply with federally mandated changes to that program. Without these necessary changes, Missouri employers will no longer be able to participate in the Shared Work Program.

The Shared Work Program allows Missouri employers that are faced with a potential layoff to reduce the work hours of many employees in a work group rather than laying off one or more individuals. This allows the employer to spread the layoff hours among the workgroup so that a complete layoff of any particular employee may be avoided.

There are advantages to this approach for employers and for employees, as well as the state. Employers are charged the same unemployment charges as they would have been if they had completely laid off an equivalent number of workers, but they are able to simply reduce the hours of workers, allowing them to retain experienced workers. Employees often see the value in accepting reduced hours versus one of their own (or themselves) being completely laid off. And the state realizes the value of keeping individuals in the habit of working at their jobs.

Missouri businesses used this program to successfully navigate the unusual economic downturn in recent years and we need to preserve the ability to use the program in the future.

Senate Bill 844 is now on its way to the House. House Bill 1713 was given final passage in the House Thursday by a margin of 149-5. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

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