If you read my columns regularly, you know that I like to share information with you about legislation that has been passed at the Statehouse. With many bills floating around Columbus, they are constantly changing, and it seems nothing is ever set in stone until we have passed a bill and it has been signed into law.

This week, I am going to take a different course by writing about legislation that has just recently been introduced—House Bill 484. This bill creates SharedWork Ohio, and I am one of 19 representatives cosponsoring it. SharedWork Ohio will be a federally authorized work program, which is often known as short-time compensation.

This legislation is aimed at making sure that there are options for businesses to take other than layoffs. While many businesses cut workers in order to save on costs, SharedWork Ohio is a way of for employers and workers to mutually agree on reduced hours. This allows the workers to receive what they would normally be paid per hour, but also collect pro-rata unemployment and keep their benefits.

I like that this bill can help prevent Ohioans from being laid off from their jobs. At the same time, it helps the business and ensures that a talented workforce can easily return to a full work week. This spirit of cooperation, with business and workers agreeing on what is best for everyone, is exactly what Ohio needs during a time of economic uncertainty.

Generally, shared work programs are not opposed because of the fact they are based on an agreement. At the same, they keep the ultimate ability of a business to run itself through conventional layoffs on the table. Missouri, New York, and Texas all have shared work programs already, and they have saved tens of thousands of jobs each.

Under our current system, workers who agree to reduced hours are not eligible for unemployment, making the federal-state unemployment system lean toward people being laid off. This should not happen, and HB 484 would help to correct this.

Furthermore, the U.S. Congress recently passed legislation that provides full funding for shared work benefits for up to three years, as well as providing grants to create and promote the programs for the states. Because of this action, now is an even better time for Ohio to have its own shared work program.

Although this legislation is at the beginning stages and will ultimately change, I will continue to work and make sure that it is the best bill it can be. Any effort to alleviate workers from layoffs and even keep away the possibility of them happening is, in my view, a good thing. House bill 484 is a common-sense bill that can keep Ohio workers and businesses prospering.


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