Workshare Program FAQ

SEIU USWW

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SEIU-USWW Workshare Program
Frequently Asked Questions 

The SEIU-USWW Workshare Program is a program that your union negotiated with janitorial employers to save jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. Where building owners agree to implement the program, Workshare protects your job by allowing the employer to cut hours by no more than 30% at your worksite instead of laying off employees, provided your employer maintains your health benefits despite the reduction in hours. In addition, you may be eligible to receive a special type of unemployment benefit to help you make up the lost income.

What is SEIU-USWW Workshare Program?

Your Union, SEIU USWW, negotiated with your employer to implement the USWW California Workshare Program to save jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. As the world faces the worst economic crisis we have ever seen, building owners and managers are under tremendous pressure to cut costs. Where building owners agree to implement the program, Workshare protects your job by allowing the employer to cut hours by no more than approximately 30% at your worksite instead of laying off employees, provided your employer maintains your health benefits despite the reduction in hours. In addition, the Union agreement requires your employer give you access to a special type of unemployment benefit to help you make up the lost income. That partial unemployment benefit will be issued by the Employment Development Department (“EDD”), the state agency that issues regular unemployment benefits when workers are laid off.

What benefits will I receive through the USWW Workshare Program?
Though your hours will be reduced by about 30%, you will be able to keep working and keep your health benefits in the midst of this economic crisis when many employers are laying people off. In addition, you may be eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits from the EDD to compensate you for wages you may have lost when your hours were cut.

Who is included in the USWW Workshare Program?
Only USWW members that work for janitorial contractors cleaning buildings where the owner has directed the contractor to participate in this program are included. There are some work classifications that are not included in the Workshare Program, and most Workshare participants are night shift employees.

How does the SEIU USWW Workshare Program affect me?
If your employer has implemented the Workshare Program at your worksite, affected workers will see their hours reduced by about 30% (SEE CHART BELOW) but will maintain their existing health benefits despite the reductions. A few weeks after your employer reduces your hours, you will receive claims forms from your employer which you may fill out to apply for partial unemployment benefits from the EDD to compensate you for lost wages. If you choose to apply for partial unemployment benefits and the EDD determines that you are eligible to receive them, you will receive money from the EDD every week for as long as reductions are in effect. You will also be required to submit claims forms every other week. See more information on claims form process below.

My hours were reduced under Workshare, can my employer cut my hours even more?
Your employer cannot reduce your original hours more than this chart allows and still be in compliance with the USWW Workshare Program. If you used to work 8 hours a day and your employer reduced your hours to 5.5, your hours cannot be further reduced under the USWW Workshare program.

What about my healthcare?
If you have health coverage now, it will not be affected by the cut in hours under this program. If you were going to qualify for health care coverage soon, you still will. No one will lose coverage because of these cuts.

If my hours are reduced, will I be expected to get the same work done?
No. Your employer agreed to adjust assignments to make the workload comparable to what you were doing before the cuts. In most cases, however, cuts are happening because there is less work to do as there are far less people using the building than usual or tenants have vacated parts of the building. You cannot be expected to do 8 hours of work in 5.5 hours but most janitors in buildings with cuts are already doing a lot less work than normal. Participating in the Workshare Program means an employer implements a service reduction as well as a reduction in hours but in most cases, the service reduction happened before reductions in hours.

Do I still have to take a lunch break?
Usually, employees are required to take a 30 minute meal break during any shift over 5 hours. Because your employer has implemented the Workshare program at your worksite, you can now skip the meal break for any shift less than 6 hours instead of having to stay for an extra half-hour of unpaid time at work.

Can I work part time for another employer?
Yes. However, any earnings from an employer other than your Workshare employer, may reduce the amount of partial unemployment benefits you will receive by the amount earned in the other job.

How will the Workshare program affect my vacation and sick leave?
Your accrual of time off is based on how many hours you work. You will continue to accrue time off at the same rate, but because you are working fewer hours, it will take you longer to accrue time off than it did before the reductions.
Anytime that you take off, whether you take vacation time or sick leave, will not be reimbursed through the Workshare Program’s partial unemployment benefits.

If you wish to take time off from work and you have accrued the vacation or sick time to do so, you will be paid at the same rate that you were paid for that time off before the reductions. If you take a vacation day, you will be paid for all 8 hours of that day even if you would only have worked 5.5 hours under the Workshare reductions.

Can I still be laid off even if my hours were reduced under the Workshare Program? What about the layoff/reductions procedures in my union contract?
The purpose of the USWW California Workshare Program is to prevent as many layoffs as possible. When a property owner agrees to implement the program at a certain worksite, it is because they are facing financial hardship and choose to reduce workers’ hours instead of laying people off. Therefore, SEIU-USWW has waived the regular procedures for addressing layoffs and reductions for any employer that implements the Workshare program during the 1 year extension of our Master Contract.

If the property owner’s financial hardship worsens and the Workshare reductions are no longer enough to offset their losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they may choose to withdraw from the Workshare Program and implement layoffs. If this happens, the layoff and reductions procedures in your SEIU-USWW contract would go back into effect.

How long will these reductions last?
When the shelter in place orders end, your employer will have 30 days to end the Workshare program and return to regular hours and assignments, unless the building owner agrees to do so faster.

Will everything go back to normal after this program ends?
Probably not. Building owners are going to be changing the way they use office space to allow for social distancing and changing the kind of cleaning they need to keep the building safe from infection. Most buildings will lose some tenants because those businesses do not survive this economic crisis. If any of these changes result in staffing cuts, then we will follow the regular rules under the contract to fight any unjustified cuts.

How do I apply for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program?

How do I apply for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program?

A few weeks after your hours are reduced, your employer will issue all affected workers two paper EDD forms: the “Initial Claim and Payment Certification, DE 4511WS” and the “Employer’s Work Sharing Certification, DE 4581WS”. Your employer will have already filled out Section A on both of these forms. If you wish to apply for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare Program to offset your reduced hours, you must complete these forms and mail them to the EDD within 14 days of when you received the forms from your employer.

You cannot apply for partial unemployment Workshare benefits online.

For help filling out the forms correctly and to learn more about how to receive partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare Program, click here and you may also join a Zoom call with the union every Saturday at 12pm.

When the EDD receives your Initial Claim and Payment Certification, DE 4511WS, they will determine if you are eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits. If you are eligible, (see Q&A below) they will begin processing your benefit payment for the first week of work you completed under the Workshare Program at the reduced hours.

Once the EDD has determined that you are eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program, the EDD will use your Employer’s Work Sharing Certification, DE 4581WS to process all following benefit payments in two week installments. Your first DE4581WS form submission will be used to calculate your benefit payment for your second and third week of work under the workshare program. You will continue filing a DE 4581WS form every two weeks in order to receive benefits for the preceding two weeks.

Can I apply for my Workshare partial unemployment benefits through the EDD’s website?
No. The EDD’s online system is for regular, non-Workshare Unemployment Insurance Benefits and for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Workshare participants cannot use the EDD’s online system to claim their partial unemployment benefits. If eligible members file their partial unemployment Workshare benefits claims online, they will eventually get their benefits but their payments will be severely delayed. Please do not file claims online. Please wait to receive your claims forms on paper from your employer and mail the claims forms to the EDD. Please see this link for further instructions and support to help you complete the Workshare forms and submit them by mail to the EDD.

After I submit my Initial Claim form to the EDD, how will I know if I am eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program?
Once the EDD receives your Initial Claim form, they will process your claim and determine if you are eligible. If you are eligible, they will mail you a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award, DE 429Z. The notice states the weekly regular unemployment benefits you would receive if you had been laid off and were totally unemployed. Because you will continue working on a reduced schedule, you will be paid a percentage of this amount based on how much your hours have been reduced, for this program that percentage will be around 30%.

How will I receive my first partial unemployment benefit payment?
After you submit your Initial Claim form, the EDD will process your claim and mail you a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award, DE 429Z if you are eligible to receive partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program. You will then receive an EDD Debit Card in the mail pre-loaded with your first benefit payment covering the first week of work you completed under the Workshare Program at the reduced hours.
It may take a few weeks for eligible members to receive their first benefit payment. If you are eligible for partial unemployment benefits, you will receive benefits earned from the time your employer reduces your hours despite the lag time in processing your partial unemployment claim.

If you’ve already been issued an EDD Debit Card in the last three years, the payments will automatically be debited to that card. If you were issued an EDD Debit Card more than three years ago you will be issued a new EDD Debit Card by mail automatically. If you were issued an EDD Debit Card within the last three years but need a replacement card, please call the EDD Special Claims Office at 916-464-3300 to request a new EDD Debit Card.

If you would rather receive your benefit payments by check, please call the EDD Special Claims Office at 916-464-3300 and inform the operator of your preference to be paid your Workshare partial unemployment benefits by check.

Who is eligible for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare program?

Am I required to apply for partial unemployment benefits in order to participate in the Workshare Program?
No, you are not required to apply for partial unemployment benefits to participate in the Workshare Program. Although USWW negotiated to give you access to partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare Program to compensate you for your reduced hours, it is up to you whether you wish to apply for the unemployment benefits. Either way, you will have the protections for your job, your health care benefits and your remaining hours that come with being in USWW’s Workshare program. The only difference is that you will not receive partial unemployment benefits to make up for the wages you lost when your hours were reduced.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Am I eligible for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare Program?
To collect any unemployment benefits, even under the Workshare Program, EDD requires that you show that you have lawful immigration status and work authorization to work in the United States. You need to prove to EDD that you had valid authorization to work both during the time that you were working and during the time that you are seeking the unemployment benefits. This is how you show EDD that you are “able and available” to work.

I have TPS status and my co-worker is in DACA status, will we qualify for partial unemployment benefits through the Workshare Program?
TPS status and DACA status allow you to be in the United States lawfully and provide you with authorization to work. So long as your TPS or DACA status and work authorization was valid while you were working and you continue to remain in that valid status while seeking partial unemployment benefits, you should qualify to receive partial unemployment benefits.

How Does EDD Verify Immigration Status and Valid Work Authorization?
EDD checks an applicant’s immigration status and authorization to work directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). EDD can check an applicant’s work authorization either by using a DHS electronic verification program called “SAVE” (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) or by sending copies of the applicant’s documents to DHS.

EDD will provide DHS with your biographic information, such as your first and last name, your date of birth, and your A-number (alien registration number) or other numeric identifier (such as on your passport or I-94 arrival/departure form).

Will DHS use the information it receives for immigration enforcement?
No, under federal immigration and confidentiality laws, the SAVE Program should not be used by DHS for immigration enforcement purposes.

What if my employment authorization expired, can I receive partial unemployment benefits?
EDD can only approve your partial unemployment benefits if you can show that you are able and available for work, including having valid work authorization. If your work authorization has now expired, even if it was valid during the period that you earned wages, but is now expired while seeking benefits, your application may be denied. For this reason, it is important that workers timely renew their employment authorization documents.

Will EDD notify my employer if my unemployment benefits application is denied?
No. EDD will not share any information with your employer concerning the denial of partial unemployment benefits or the reason(s) for the denial.

I heard that the Immigration Agency is closed because of COVID-19, can I still apply to renew my work authorization document?
Yes. Although the USCIS is closed for in-person services, the agency is still receiving and processing applications to renew work authorization documents. During the office closures, USCIS will use your biometrics (aka fingerprints) that are on file and your application need not have an original signature (photocopied, faxed, or e-signatures are acceptable.)

Does EDD take any other steps to verify a person’s identity?
If EDD receives information that a social security number has been stolen or used improperly to file a claim for unemployment benefits, the agency will flag the social security number used to file the claim. If any person attempts to use that social security number again, EDD will request additional identifying information from the person filing the claim. In addition, EDD notifies the last employer, former employers, and current employers when a claim for unemployment benefits is filed and also reports the amount of the benefits paid to the Internal Revenue Service.