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Virginia Lawmaker Proposes Shared Worker Program Bill

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Members of Virginia's Unemployment Compensation Commission are weighing whether to endorse the creation of a shared work program that could potentially benefit both businesses and employees during an economic slowdown.

A laid-off worker may qualify for unemployment compensation that's less than normal wages. And companies often believe that business will pick up again, and don't want to lose trained employees. Sen. George Barker says through a shared work program, both could benefit.

"Rather than five people working five days a week now, you can only have enough work for four," says Barker. "What this would do is all five would be able to stay, but each of them would work four days a week. And they would receive some unemployment compensation for that fifth day since they would not be working their regular hours."

Under Barker's legislation, employee benefits cannot be reduced or eliminated. Barker says the state Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders investigated the cost.

"After we went through and they got the information from the Virginia Employment Commission that said that virtually all of the cost would be paid by the businesses using it, they did not oppose the bill," he says.

The General Assembly will consider the bill next month.

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