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Media contact: Bill Tarrow, Communications Manager, 360-902-9376

OLYMPIA – More than 20,000 Washington workers got paychecks instead of pink slips in 2009 by participating in the state Employment Security Department’s Shared-Work Program.

The program allows employers to cut their payroll costs by reducing the hours of their full-time employees, and the workers collect partial unemployment benefits to make up for some of the lost wages.  The estimate of jobs saved last year through Shared Work comes from information on the employers’ original applications combined with their actual use of the program. 

“Shared Work can make the difference for a company that is on the brink of closing,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.  

“Shared Work helps us maintain our competitive advantage,” said Terry Schweyen, owner of ASAP Metal Fabricators in Yakima.  “It lets us keep our key people – a lot of trained people who have the skill sets we need – until things pick up.” 

A record 2,800 businesses and some 51,000 employees were approved to participate in the program in 2009, up from 621 employers and 21,272 employees in 2008. 

In any given week, anywhere from a third to two-thirds of employees approved to participate in the program are actually drawing Shared-Work benefits. The program is designed to be flexible, so employers can add or reduce work hours based on their workload needs. 

“Flexibility is the key ingredient in this economy,” said Bill Baker, human resources director for EZ Loader Boat Trailers in Spokane.  “We adjust our employees’ hours each week based on the amount of work coming through the door.” 

Employment Security paid out $40 million in shared-work benefits to participants in 2009.  The department would have paid an estimated $54 million in additional benefits if the workers had been fully laid off and collected the state average of 17 weeks of benefits.   

Both public- and private-sector employers are eligible to participate in the program, and employers of all sizes are accepted.  

Shared-work benefits may be paid for up to 52 weeks, and as few as one employee can participate.  Only full-time, hourly workers who meet eligibility criteria are eligible for the program. The program will not subsidize seasonal employers, part-time employees, corporate officers or employees paid on a piece rate, mileage rate, job rate, salary or commission basis.

Information about the program is available online at www.esd.wa.gov, search on “shared work,” or by phone at 800-752-2500


Shared-Work hotline: 800-752-2500

On the Web: https://esd.wa.gov/about-employees/shared-work 

Broadcast version

Washington’s Employment Security Department says its Shared-Work Program helped to save an estimated twenty-thousand jobs last year.

Shared-Work is a layoff-avoidance program that allows employers to reduce the hours of their full-time hourly employees, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits. 

A record 28-hundred businesses and some 51-thousand employees were approved to participate in the program in 2009. 

To learn more, visit esd.wa.gov.