During the Great Recession, the federal government passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which reformed workplace laws
and regulations to help get people back on their feet after the crash. Four years later, we are still living under many of these rules. One of the biggest workplace reforms this added was the short-term compensation program. There is a debate as to whether these reforms benefit workers.
How does short-term employment work?
This allowed employers to cut an employee’s hours during tough economic times, rather them letting them go. The partial hours could then combine with new partial unemployment benefits to keep employees afloat and working during hard times. The program hoped to create a win-win scenario, where businesses could keep good employees and workers could keep their jobs.
Does this benefit workers?
The Department of Labor recently released a report on a study it commissioned. Not surprisingly, they are framing the reforms as a success. The study claims that reforms preserved as many as 570,000 jobs for workers while also getting an approval rate of 86 percent from participating employers. This looks pretty good to anyone who supports the changes, but there are also plenty of critics.
Opponents of the program are skeptical of the rule’s motives, however. How can companies prove that they are cutting hours as a result of economic hardship, as opposed to simply an attempt to cut their own costs? Employees often would prefer to keep their high hours if possible. Some argue that the program is too focused on helping employers rather than workers. Others are concerned about how additional government involvement in the workforce might affect the economy long-term.
What is your opinion?
Like any policy decision that affects our jobs or livelihoods, people have strong opinions about this issue. We all agree that the aim is to keep good workers employed, safe and productive, but we all have different ideas about how to get there. What do you think of this study? Do you think that the last four years of short-term employment reform have been good or bad for working people?
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a workers’ compensation law firm that has been fighting to protect injured workers for more than 80 years.