New jobless program launches in Maine

Posted June 05, 2012, at 5:03 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Department of Labor is launching a new program this month aimed at keeping workers on the job while their employers experience temporary slowdowns in business.

A program called WorkShare allows workers to stay on the job with reduced hours and still collect limited unemployment benefits to partially offset their loss in wages.

Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass says WorkShare helps businesses and employees.

It allows companies to keep their work force during tough times, while workers can retain their benefits and job seniority while collecting benefits so they can stay on the job and not have go elsewhere for work.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, says the program has worked in other states and now Maine has an opportunity to make it work. Twenty states have similar programs.