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  • The Department of Labor and Industry of Pennsylvania has created a new Shared Work Program to help employers keep their skilled workers and avoid lay-offs. Find out if your company or your employer qualify for this program. The shared work program could mean the difference between a reduced work schedule or unemployment or between losing a skilled worker and keeping a valuable member of your team.

    The changes to the new Shared-Work program start to apply in March 2012. These changes affect the requirements a worker and a company must meet to qualify. These changes are hot from the press so stay with us and see how Pennsylvania can help protect your jobs and strengthen your company.

    The Basics

    First let’s review what a shared-work program is. A shared-work program is a government subsidy that allows employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of their workers and tops up the difference to the worker’s wage by granting eligible workers a percentage of their unemployment compensation weekly benefit amount.

    Reduction Percentage

    A key factor when calculating eligibility for the shared-work program and the benefits workers will receive is the employee’s ‘reduction percentage’. The reduction percentage of a worker is percentage of work hours eligible workers see their hours reduced by. For example, if you usually work 40 hours a week and your employer reduces your week work hours to 32, that is a 20 percent. A 40 percent reduction would mean you are left with only 24 hours of work when you started with 40 hours. It is important for workers to understand that to qualify for the shared-work program all workers in the program must suffer the same reduction percentage. You cannot pick and choose how many hours each worker’s work schedule will be reduced by. To qualify, the reduction percentage of the workers in a company must be greater than 20 percent but lower than 40 percent.


    The amount a worker will see his reduced wage topped-up by will depend on her weekly benefit amount at that time. The weekly benefit amount of a worker is the amount of weekly benefits she would be eligible for if she applied for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor and Industry will provide workers in the shared-work program with the same proportion of their weekly benefits amount as their reduction percentage. For instance, if a workers hours are reduced by 30 percent he will be eligible for up to 30 percent of her weekly benefit amount.

    Those who file for UC benefits will be informed as to whether they are financially eligible, which means whether you have earned enough during the time you were working. Once this is determined then the reason why you left the job is examined because it must be through no fault of your own that you are unemployed. If this is the case then you are eligible for weekly benefit payments and to remain so you only have to be prepared and able to accept any work offered to you that is suitable. You may also be required to participate in reemployment services.

    Special eligibility rules do apply to those who are employees of schools or other educational service agencies. Please make sure you are entitled to the benefits you receive as overpayment will result in any future benefit to which you are entitled being reduced or perhaps taken away from you until you have repaid the full amount. The Unemployment Compensation Benefit is paid on a weekly basis. If you are eligible for this payment the amount that you qualify to receive is called your Benefit Rate. The weekly Benefit Rate is determined according to the amount you earned while you were employed. The Benefit Rate is calculated using your total gross wages over a period of a year during which the High Quarter (when you earned the highest wages) decides the weekly amount you will receive, the final Benefit Rate will amount to about half of your full-time weekly wage.

    If you are not in agreement with the Notice of Financial Determination which will inform you of the benefit rate, you should appeal as soon as possible to the Notice of Financial Determination and ask for a redetermination from the UC Service Center. You may be entitled to have an allowance for a dependant spouse, that is a husband or wife living in your household. This allowance is $5 a week and an additional $3 a week can be added for a dependant child. The child must be an unmarried son or daughter ( under the age of 18 years a step child or an adopted child)

    The maximum weekly allowance for dependants is $8. The maximum number of weeks to which you will be entitled for dependants is the same as your benefit entitlement. In addition to the foregoing information we can now make a new service available for the deaf. This is a Videophone Service now in use on Wednesday afternoons from 12.00pm until 4.00pm.

    The number is 717-704-8474. There is an interpreter of American Sign Language (ASL) who is state registered and fully qualified working closely with a UC claims representative on hand to make UC services available to deaf applicants by way of Videophone. If you would like to use these services please leave a sign mail message whenever it is convenient to you and we will return your call.

    It is the making of fantasies or of nightmares, depending on your personality. You go to check your battered bank balance and notice there has been a $600 payment from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry you were not expecting. In fact, on closer inspection you realize it is a mistake, you have been overpaid. This, of course, is not only a figment of my imagination, it happens often enough. After all, the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation program has to deal with thousands of claims, a mistake here and there is to be expected.

    The big question is what are you going to do? The issue of government overpayment of benefits seems to be view on a moral par to finding money on the street. Nobody seems to be a victim of this overpayment, unless you count all taxpayers, so is it really that bad to keep it and keep quiet. The moral dilemma seems to be pretty straightforward: it isn’t your money and our near-bankrupt unemployment compensation program can’t afford to give out bonuses. But the question many of our reader have been asking is: what if I don’t pay it back?

    That was the question posed by one of our readers: “What If I do not pay back an overpayment? What can happen to me?

    There are three types of overpayments. One of them you don’t have to pay back.

     Fault overpayments occur when you receive more benefits than you should because you provide misleading information to the unemployment compensation program, in other words, because you lie. Not surprisingly, you must repay fault overpayments. If you don’t pay it within 15 days of being notified, you will start to owe interest on the overpayment. If you insist on not paying, a lien may be placed on your wages, if you are back to work, or on your benefits. In addition to this, the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation law allows the for the conviction of people who provide false statement or who knowingly withhold information to obtain or increase their benefits. If found guilty, you could be fined up to $1,000 or spend up to 30 days in prison, or both if you are really lucky. Further, you will be required to repay any benefits you were not entitled to.

    Non-fault overpayments occur when the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation program pays you more than they should through no fault of your own. These must also be repaid. However, you have two options: to repay it voluntarily through a check or money order, or to get it discounted from any future benefits during the next three-year period. These deductions cannot exceed a third of your weekly benefits, although if the overpayment is less than $100 it will be deducted in full the first week.

    Non-fault non-recoupable overpayments occur when you are overpaid because the unemployment compensation program changes its mind on your eligibility, determines the wages you earned do not meet the definition of employment or you receive holiday and vacations pay you did not know about. In these cases, you do not have to repay the overpayment and they wont be deducted from any future benefits. However, the unemployment compensation program will accept voluntary repayments.

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