ROCKFORD – The Illinois General Assembly today passed a bill by Senator Steve Stadelman that would ease the pain for businesses and employees during tough economic times.
If signed by the governor, Senate Bill 3530 would change how unemployment benefits are paid in Illinois, reducing layoffs and potentially saving the state money.
Under the new "shared-work benefits," businesses that find themselves struggling in a weak economy can temporarily reduce hours – rather than lay off workers -- and the workers can collect partial unemployment benefits while staying on the job part time.
"It doesn't happen often enough in government, but everybody wins with this legislation," said Stadelman, D-Rockford. "Businesses get to keep already-trained employees on staff, and employees get to keep their jobs while collecting partial benefits until they return to work full time. The state wins, too, by saving money that would have been paid to laid-off workers drawing full benefits."
Stadelman added that $4 million is available from the federal government to pay startup costs if the bill becomes law this month.
Similar programs, also known as "short-time compensation," have been successfully implemented in 17 other states, including Iowa and Missouri. Under Stadelman's legislation, Illinois would offer partial benefits when an employer cuts hours among at least 10 percent of its staff and shares the remaining work among affected employees.
"The value of work-share plans cannot be over-emphasized," Stadelman said. "Employees who otherwise face layoffs gain a sense of security and peace of mind, and businesses avoid the upheaval of letting skilled workers go and retraining new ones."
Both sides of the General Assembly passed the bill this spring, but House amendments required Senate approval, which occurred today. The bill now awaits the governor's signature.