INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s hard to find issues at the Statehouse that both the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the unions agree on, but instituting a work share program is one. In spite of this, work share legislation was shut down Tuesday without even a committee vote.
Work share programs allow companies to reduce hours instead of laying people off. Employees can then claim partial unemployment benefits to help compensate for the cut in hours. An Indiana Chamber of Commerce study says at the peak of a recession, around 3 percent of the workforce would use work share, stabilizing about half a million dollars in income a month and about 10,000 workers. Subaru of Indiana’s Tom Easterday says work share helps halt what he calls the “exodus” of skilled workers during an economic downturn.
“The loss of those skilled workers and the experience they possess can have a significant negative impact on a company’s ability to recover,” Easterday said.
But Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s Josh Richardson, whose agency opposes work share, says even at the peak of a recession he’d expect a participation rate of less than 1 percent. And at a significant cost to the state.
“A year one cost of about two and a half million and then about a million dollars a year, annually,” Richardson said.
The House Labor Committee only took testimony on the bill Tuesday. Committee chair Doug Gutwein says his biggest concern is how to pay for the program; and that the measure won’t get a vote this session.