Proposed: Public-Private Worksharing

26Feb09

Some companies have been known to pay their employees to do random work, for the companies themselves or even for other organizations, rather than take the easy route of just terminating or laying off those unneeded workers.  Companies have done this mostly because it can be difficult and expensive to recruit and train personnel, and perhaps to some extent because nobody likes layoffs.

The federal government could provide an incentive to encourage employers to do this.  One possibility would go like this.  Rather than being laid off, the employee’s wages will be reduced by, say, 15%.  Rather than expect the employer to pay all of the remaining 85%, which employers will tend not to do, the government could subsidize the paycheck with the amount of unemployment benefits the worker would receive.  So if, for example, the worker’s salary was $50,000, 85% would be $42,500; and if unemployment paid $22,500, the company would now have to come up with just $20,000 to keep that worker as its employee.  Caveats:  (1) These weeks of unemployment would count only partially, or perhaps not at all, against the weeks of unemployment to which the worker would ordinarily be entitled.  (2) The worker would have to spend part or all of his/her time working at projects designated by the government rather than by the employer.  Until the government came up with tasks on which the employee’s help was needed, s/he might just continue to work for the employer.  There may be some built-in incentives to encourage employees to com up with projects that demonstrably benefit their communities or specific nonprofit or governmental organizations.)

This approach would keep people employed, for the benefit of companies and individual workers alike.  It would preserve jobs that are continuous with the employee’s career, rather than putting him/her into some tangential enterprise that may not make good use of his/her special skills.  At the same time, it would put employers and employees on notice, in this and future crises, that they need to be looking at additional training, links with the community, or other ways of enhancing continuity in the employee’s work experience.

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One Response to “Proposed: Public-Private Worksharing”

  1. 1 Mike

    Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!


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