PLATTSBURGH - Considered to be one of New York State's best well-kept secrets, the state Department of Labor is encouraging more businesses to take part in the Shared Work Program during these difficult economic times.
The Shared Work Program helps employers survive "temporary business downturns" by reducing the number of hours worked by all employees or just a select group, instead of cutting the staff altogether.
Clifford R. Donaldson, North Country regional director for the Department of Labor, explained an increase in unemployment rates in New York State has led to the labor department making the push for employers to take part in the Shared Work Program. Donaldson spoke at length about details of the unique program, during a press conference Feb. 12 at Bombardier Transportation, a local business participating in the SWP.
"If you are an employer ... facing a temporary decline in business, Shared Work provides an alternative to lay-offs," explained Donaldson. "Rather than laying off a percentage of workers to cut costs, an employer can reduce the hours and wages of all or a particular group of employees."
The importance of keeping staff on partial unemployment instead of doing lay-offs can be beneficial to the employer in various ways, Donaldson said. It lowers the cost of having to advertise for new employees when they are needed, reduces time spent for orienting a new employee and current employees who already know the job will still be available to work when needed.
In turn, employees may also receive partial unemployment insurance to supplement their lost wages.
"New York State's unemployment rate increased from six percent in November 2008 to seven percent just one month later in December," said Donaldson. "That is the highest level of unemployment in New York State since June of 1994."
Donaldson said the increase is the largest jump in unemployment rates since the department began calculating these figures.