HSD Work Share Program Overview
The District is facing a fairly significant revenue shortfall in the 2020-21 school year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and reduced tax collections at the state level. In order to save significant money this school year to help mitigate the impacts of reductions next school year, and to hold our employees harmless, we will be accessing a state program called Work Share as well as money available through the federal CARES Act.
The Work Share program is in place in 26 states and has been available for several decades. It was initially implemented as an employee protection program for the manufacturing industry by allowing employers to furlough employees for one to two days per week rather than lay them off. The employer was able to save money as they weathered cyclical demand, and the employee retained their job and was able to collect unemployment at the same time.
Here are some highlights of the program:
- The employer files for its entire employee base* and continues to do so each week, moving people in and out of the program as necessary based on their eligibility. (*Some employees are not eligible for this program because they have not worked for the district for at least six months, are on a leave of absence, or are retiring.)
- The employee fills out a one-time two-page document indicating their preference for a check or direct deposit, tax withholding, etc.
- The employee’s work week is reduced by 20 percent. If they normally work 40 hours per week, they will now work 32; if they normally work 20 hours per week, they will now work 16.
- The employee will receive their regular pay from the district for 80 percent of their week, and will receive the Work Share unemployment pay for 20 percent of their week. They will also receive $600 per week from the federal CARES Act program currently in place through July 31, 2020.
- The impact of the 20 percent reduction in District pay will not be evident until the June paycheck, at which time the Work Share unemployment benefits should have already begun.
- The employee’s health benefits remain the same.
Hillsboro School District has submitted its application to the State Unemployment Office for participation in this program, and we are hopeful we can implement it for all employee groups by next week.* (*Pending conversations with our non-represented employees, and approval of our unions, and the Board.) The furlough day will likely be Fridays, but the more important piece is that each employee reduces their work hours - those hours do not necessarily have to be tied to a particular day. By selecting Fridays as the furlough day, students will have a predictable schedule each week of instruction for four days and a catch-up/research/project day on the fifth day; however, if another day must be selected based on an employee’s/employee group’s work responsibilities, they will work that out with their supervisor.
If we are able to implement furlough days for all employees, we will save approximately $850,000 per week. If we are able to start with all employees by May 15, we will save approximately $4.2 million by July 31, 2020.
Any money we are able to save in this fiscal year will lessen the impact of reductions we will have to make in the 2020-21 school year - protecting more jobs, more school days, and more vital programs for students.
Additional information about the Work Share program, including an FAQ, will be forthcoming.