IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
August 7, 2009
Mr. Reed introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance
To keep Americans working by strengthening and expanding short-time compensation programs that provide employers with an alternative to layoffs.
This Act may be cited as
Keep Americans Working
The purpose of this Act is to keep Americans working by strengthening and expanding short-time compensation programs that provide employers with an alternative to layoffs.
Treatment of short-time compensation programs
Section 3306 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
Short-time compensation program
For purposes of this chapter, the term short-time compensation program means a program under which—
the participation of an employer is voluntary;
an employer reduces the number of hours worked by employees through certifying that such reductions are in lieu of temporary layoffs;
such employees whose workweeks have been reduced by at least 10 percent are eligible for unemployment compensation;
the amount of unemployment compensation payable to any such employee is a pro rata portion of the unemployment compensation which would be payable to the employee if such employee were totally unemployed;
such employees are not expected to meet the availability for work or work search test requirements while collecting short-time compensation benefits, but are required to be available for their normal workweek;
eligible employees may participate in an employer-sponsored training program to enhance job skills if such program has been approved by the State agency;
beginning on the date which is 2 years after the date of enactment of this subsection, the State agency shall require an employer to certify that continuation of health benefits and retirement benefits under a defined benefit pension plan (as defined in section 3(35) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) is not affected by participation in the program;
the State agency shall require an employer (or an employer's association which is party to a collective bargaining agreement) to submit a written plan describing the manner in which the requirements of this subsection will be implemented and containing such other information as the Secretary of Labor determines is appropriate;
in the case of employees represented by a union, the appropriate official of the union has agreed to the terms of the employer’s written plan and implementation is consistent with employer obligations under the National Labor Relations Act; and
the program meets such other requirements as the Secretary of Labor determines appropriate.
Assistance and guidance in implementing programs
Assistance and guidance
In order to assist States in establishing, qualifying,
and implementing short-time compensation programs, as defined in section
3306(v) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as added by subsection (a)), the
Secretary of Labor (in this section referred to as the
develop model legislative language which may be used by States in developing and enacting short-time compensation programs and shall periodically review and revise such model legislative language;
provide technical assistance and guidance in developing, enacting, and implementing such programs;
establish biannual reporting requirements for States, including number of averted layoffs, number of participating companies and workers, and retention of employees following participation; and
award start-up grants to State agencies under subparagraph (B).
The Secretary shall award start-up grants to State agencies that apply not later than September 30, 2010, in States that enact short-time compensation programs after the date of enactment of this Act for the purpose of creating such programs. The amount of such grants shall be awarded depending on the costs of implementing such programs.
In order to receive a grant under clause (i) a State agency shall meet requirements established by the Secretary, including any reporting requirements under clause (iii). Each State agency shall be eligible to receive not more than one such grant.
The Secretary may establish reporting requirements for State agencies receiving a grant under clause (i) in order to provide oversight of grant funds used by States for the creation of short-time compensation programs.
There are appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to the Secretary, such sums as the Secretary certifies as necessary for the period of fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to carry out this subparagraph.
The initial model legislative language referred to in paragraph (1)(A) shall be developed not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
Not later than 4 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to Congress and to the President a report or reports on the implementation of this section. Such report or reports shall include—
a study of short-time compensation programs;
an analysis of the significant impediments to State enactment and creation of such programs; and
such recommendations as the Secretary determines appropriate.
After the submission of the report under paragraph (1), the Secretary may submit such additional reports on the implementation of short-time compensation programs as the Secretary deems appropriate.
There are appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to the Secretary, $1,500,000 to carry out this subsection, to remain available without fiscal year limitation.
Internal Revenue Code of 1986
Subparagraph (E) of section 3304(a)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows:
amounts may be withdrawn for the payment of short-time compensation under a short-time compensation program (as defined in section 3306(v));
Subsection (f) of section 3306 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended—
by striking paragraph (5) (relating to short-term compensation) and inserting the following new paragraph:
amounts may be withdrawn for the payment of short-time compensation under a short-time compensation program (as defined in subsection (v));
by redesignating paragraph (5) (relating to self-employment assistance program) as paragraph (6).
Social Security Act
Section 303(a)(5) of the Social Security Act is amended by
the payment of short-time compensation under a plan approved by
the Secretary of Labor and inserting
the payment of short-time
compensation under a short-time compensation program (as defined in section
3306(v) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986).
Subsections (b) through (d) of section 401 of the Unemployment Compensation Amendments of 1992 (26 U.S.C. 3304 note) are repealed.
The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act.
Temporary financing of certain short-time compensation programs
Payments to States with certified programs
Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a program under which the Secretary shall make payments to any State unemployment trust fund to be used for the payment of unemployment compensation if the Secretary approves an application for certification submitted under paragraph (3) for such State to operate a short-time compensation program (as defined in section 3306(v) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as added by section 3(a))) which requires the maintenance of health and retirement employee benefits as described in paragraph (7) of such section 3306(v), notwithstanding the otherwise effective date of such requirement.
Subject to subsection (d), the payment to a State under paragraph (1) shall be an amount equal to 100 percent of the total amount of benefits paid to individuals by the State pursuant to the short-time compensation program during the period—
beginning on the date a certification is issued by the Secretary with respect to such program; and
ending on September 30, 2011.
Any State seeking full reimbursement under this subsection shall submit an application for certification at such time, in such manner, and complete with such information as the Secretary may require (whether by regulation or otherwise), including information relating to compliance with the requirements of paragraph (7) of such section 3306(v). The Secretary shall, within 30 days after receiving a complete application, notify the State agency of the State of the Secretary’s findings with respect to the requirements of such paragraph (7).
If the Secretary finds that the short-time compensation program operated by the State meets the requirements of such paragraph (7), the Secretary shall certify such State's short-time compensation program thereby making such State eligible for full reimbursement under this subsection.
Timing of application submittals
No application under subsection (a)(3) may be considered if submitted before the date of enactment of this Act or after the latest date necessary (as specified by the Secretary) to ensure that all payments under this section are made before September 30, 2011.
Terms of payments
Payments made to a State under subsection (a)(1) shall be payable by way of reimbursement in such amounts as the Secretary estimates the State will be entitled to receive under this section for each calendar month, reduced or increased, as the case may be, by any amount by which the Secretary finds that the Secretary's estimates for any prior calendar month were greater or less than the amounts which should have been paid to the State. Such estimates may be made on the basis of such statistical, sampling, or other method as may be agreed upon by the Secretary and the State agency of the State involved.
General payment limitations
No payments shall be made to a State under this section for benefits paid to an individual by the State pursuant to a short-time compensation program that is in excess of 26 weeks of benefits.
No payments shall be made to a State under this section for benefits paid to an individual by the State pursuant to a short-time compensation program if such individual is employed by an employer—
whose workforce during the 3 months preceding the date of the submission of the employer's short-time compensation plan has been reduced by temporary layoffs of more than 20 percent;
on a seasonal, temporary, or intermittent basis; or
engaged in a labor dispute.
Program payment limitation
In making any payments to a State under this section pursuant to a short-time compensation program, the Secretary may limit the frequency of employer participation in such program.
Under a short-time compensation program reimbursed under this section, a State may require short-time compensation benefits paid to an individual to be charged to a participating employer regardless of the base period charging rule.
A participating employer under this section is required to comply with the terms of the written plan approved by the State agency and act in good faith to retain participating employees, and the State shall, in the event of any violation, require such employer to repay to the State a sum based on the amount expended by the State under the program as a result of that violation.
Oversight and monitoring
The Secretary shall establish an oversight and monitoring process by regulation by which State agencies will ensure that participating employers comply with the requirements of paragraph (1).
In the case of any State which receives reimbursement under this section, if such State determines that a violation of paragraph (1) has occurred, the State shall transfer an appropriate amount to the United States of the repayment the State required of the employer pursuant to such paragraph.
There are appropriated, from time to time, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to the Secretary, such sums as the Secretary certifies are necessary to carry out this section (including to reimburse any additional administrative expenses incurred by the States in operating such short-time compensation programs).
Definition of State
In this section, the term State includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.