Work-Sharing: The Unsung Hero of Layoff Aversion

Recently, the writer’s union for the Los Angeles Times made their own headlines when they announced an agreement between the Guild and the paper to avoid layoffs through a temporarily reduced weekly schedule.

“Los Angeles Times” by C-Monster is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Typically in times of economic downturns the only remedy available to employers is drastic cost cutting – and as advertising revenues at the Times plummeted, layoffs seemed inevitable. But representatives for the L.A. Times Guild team found a better way:

We discovered a potent, but little-known, layoff prevention program known as “work-sharing.” Employers who participate in work-sharing can avoid layoffs during a temporary downturn by shortening employees’ hours. Workers maintain health and retirement benefits and are allowed to collect prorated unemployment benefits to offset lost wages. When the downturn ends, hours are restored.

The management team at the Times quickly agreed, preserving 80+ jobs and cutting payroll costs by over $2 million. Guild president, Anthony Pesce, called the outcome “…the best possible deal we could have made under the circumstances.” 

State work-share programs let businesses temporarily reduce the hours of their employees, instead of laying them off during financial crises. Often referred to as short-time compensation, the goal of work-sharing programs is to reduce unemployment.

Work-share programs benefit businesses, workers and states:

  • Businesses retain their trained workforce for easy recall to full-time work when economic conditions improve.
  • Workers keep their jobs instead of being laid off and collect reduced unemployment benefits to partially replace their lost wages.
  • States save money by paying only partial unemployment claims instead of paying full benefits to laid-off workers.

Additional funding for this program was made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Workforce Development Boards on the front lines of layoff aversion efforts in their communities are in a great position to connect at-risk businesses with work-share resources – and EconoVue™ helps Workforce Boards identify financially at-risk companies before any layoffs have occurred, and to explore creative layoff alternatives like work-share.

Using the EconoVue Employer Risk Indicators to create a targeted outreach focused on small businesses, a Silicon Valley Workforce Board recently connected with an electronic component manufacturer who had lost a big contract. By helping the company apply for work-share assistance, the at-risk employees were able to maintain their employment and benefit status by working a reduced schedule and the employer avoided additional financial hardship and future hiring costs.

The Board’s Business Services Manager shared her story with us, saying, “Using EconoVue made it easy to identify at-risk companies in our priority sectors. By pairing this struggling company with CA Work Share, we were able to reduce the company’s financial stress and help them retain their employees.

Want to learn more about the ways EconoVue can help your Board identify and connect with companies in your region that are good candidates for work-share? Comment below or reach out for more details and personalized demo.

Designed for and with workforce/economic development practitioners, EconoVue™ is the most intuitive data visualization and business outreach platform for dissecting and understanding the economy at the neighborhood, city, regional and national levels. It combines GIS, visualization tools for regional industry sector trend analysis, business research tools, CRM employer outreach components and a layoff aversion module featuring filters for finding companies by financial health. For more information please visit us at