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This Lesser-Known California Program Can Save Jobs During A Pandemic

A worker checks the warehouse shelves at Pacoima-based Marketing Innovations International, April 24, 2020. (Courtesy: Nestor Escobar)
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The coronavirus has put so many Californians out of work that about one out of every six workers in the state is seeking unemployment benefits. Economists say for many employers, there’s a better way.

California’s Work Sharing program lets companies save money by cutting their workers’ hours by as much as 60%. But the workers get to keep their jobs and benefits, and unemployment funding will help replace their lost wages.

Proponents say this lesser-known program is a great way to avoid painful layoffs during a recession. But employers have found the state’s analog application process to be stressful for their workers.

Frank Mullens, an executive with a Los Angeles company that applied for work sharing, said, “I’ve had employees come to me and say, ‘Okay, what do we do? It's been a couple weeks. You haven't heard anything. What am I supposed to do?’”

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