By State Representative John Huffman
SALEM””Rep. John Huffman (R-The Dalles) today helped secure House passage of HB 3140, a bill to expand the Work Share program that helps businesses avoid permanent layoffs and Oregonians avoid full unemployment. Work Share allows employees at participating businesses to receive a percentage of unemployment benefits equal to the percentage of the reduction in their work weeks. HB 3140 extends Work Share benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks.
“HB 3140 is a bipartisan jobs bill that keeps Oregon businesses operating and Oregonians working,” said Rep. Huffman, who co-carried the bill on the House Floor. “During this recession, the state must do all it can to keep Oregonians on the job where they can continue to develop skills and gain experience. HB 3140 will also help keep Oregon’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund healthy and solvent for the future.”
Under Work Share, workers can receive unemployment insurance benefits when their normal weekly work hours are cut by 20 to 40 percent. Fewer than 50 employers were enrolled in Work Share in 2007, yet enrollment climbed to 70 employers in 2008 and skyrocketed to 477 employers today.
Rep. Huffman said an estimated 10 percent of participating employers will exhaust the 26 weeks currently allowed under the program and will use the full 26 additional weeks offered under HB 3140.
“Employers have traditionally used the Work Share program between four to 16 weeks to retain workers during seasonal slowdowns,” Rep. Huffman said. “It has become more difficult for these businesses to weather this recession and keep the employees they have. The additional 26 weeks of benefits will help keep these Oregon jobs from disappearing completely.”
HB 3140 now moves to the Senate.