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Work Share Legislation Shut Down Without Committee Hearing

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 of them.

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 three percent of the workforce would use work share, impacting the stability of about half a million dollars in income a month and about 10 thousand workers.

“The loss of those skilled workers and the experience they possess can have a significant negative impact on a company’s ability to recover," says Tom Easterday of Subaru of Indiana. He says work share helps halt what he calls the "exodus" of workers during an economic downturn.

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 one percent, yet 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 says.

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.

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