SANTA FE (KRQE) - Instead of cutting jobs, a House bill aims to give companies the option of cutting hours instead.
A proposal by Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, that passed the House Tuesday aims to create a "work-sharing" program in New Mexico.
Under the bill, companies would have the option of agreeing with the state to trim the hours for several employees instead of layoffs.
Affected employees would get partial unemployment benefits to make up some of the difference. and the business would still have to keep paying existing benefits.
That would allow companies to keep trained staff while cutting down on costs and would spread the pain of a layoff across several employees. Work-sharing, also known as short-time compensation, would be optional.
"We can keep jobs, keep people working and allow them to support their family," Louis said.
As of the middle of last year, 23 states including the District of Columbia have work-sharing systems in effect.
House Republicans expressed concerns about the bill. Minority Whip Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, said he was concerned that it would cause the state's unemployment insurance fund to be depleted.
In the fiscal-impact report prepared for the bill, the Workforce Solutions Department points out that there would add significant administrative burdens on employers.
Federal grant funding would be available to help New Mexico pay to set up and promote the system. A 2012 employment law would allow the federal government to pay part of the short-time compensation benefits.
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