Work Share and Unemployment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Higher Education Edition

Q. How do I contact the Oregon Employment Department with specific questions not answerable by this FAQ?

  1. You should contact the Work Share division of the Oregon Employment Department.

Email: OED_WorkShare@oregon.gov​

Phone: (503)-947-1800

Toll Free: (800)-436-6191

Q. What if I do not qualify for Work Share?

  1. The only employees we know will not qualify for Work Share are full-time (1.0 FTE) employees with fewer than 6 months total service with their current employer and part-time (< 1.0 FTE) employees with fewer than 12 months total service with their current employer..

If you are one of these employees, you may still qualify for regular unemployment benefits, but you will need to submit a claim as an individual directly to the Oregon Department of Employment. You can learn more about the process through this informational video and at OED’s website.

We recommend that you contact OED directly to speak to a representative about your situation.

Q. How will I receive my unemployment compensation each week?

  1. Although your employer participates in Oregon’s Work Share program and will take care of much of the paperwork, your unemployment compensation will come directly from the Oregon Employment Department to you, separate from your paycheck.

If you want to receive your unemployment compensation through Direct Deposit, you need to set that up with the Oregon Employment Department using the PDF version of the Authorization for Electronic Deposit form from Oregon Employment Department’s website.

Q. How long will I need to wait before I start receiving unemployment compensation for the hours I lost?

  1. The first benefits payout should occur quicker than if you were filing an individual claim with the employment department.  That said, the Employment department is facing a huge backlog of claims due to record high unemployment claims, making the system slow for everyone.

When it goes through, you will receive retroactive payments.

Employees who experience financial hardship while waiting for unemployment benefits may request a salary advance pursuant to university policy and Article 22, Section 1(D) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which states:

Release of sixty percent (60%) of an employee’s earned gross wages prior to the

employee’s designated payday shall be authorized, subject to approval of the university’s chief human resource officer or designee, in emergency cases upon receipt of a written request from the employee that describes the emergency. An emergency situation shall be defined as an unusual, unforeseen event or condition that requires immediate financial attention by an employee.

Our Union also has a hardship fund that is available to members during this time. You can find out how to apply for these funds by visiting our website at seiu503.org/covid.

Q. How much money can I expect to receive in the form of unemployment compensation for my lost hours?

We are not in a position to tell you that with certainty, but you should be able to calculate your expected earnings by doing the following:

  1. Baseline Weekly Benefit: Calculate your estimated weekly benefit for full unemployment using the Oregon Employment Department Insurance Estimator.
  2. Weekly Work Share Benefit: If you are taking a 20% hours reduction, your weekly Work Share benefit will be 20% of what your baseline weekly unemployment benefit would be. If you are taking a 40% hours reduction, your weekly Work Share benefit will be 40% of what your baseline weekly unemployment benefit would be.
  3. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): For every week between May 1, 2020 and July 25, 2020 in which you receive a weekly Work Share benefit from Oregon, you should also receive an extra $600 on top of that amount from the federal government. After July 25, 2020, that extra $600 stops.

To help you plan your budget, we have put together an Excel spreadsheet that does some of the work for you some Estimated Workshare Unemployment Benefit Calculators.  Here are versions for workers employed at:

EOU

OIT

OSU

SOU

WOU

PSU recently enrolled in the workshare program.  UO is currently not participating in a work share agreement.  When they do, calculators will be posted here.  

Be aware that the Estimated Workshare Unemployment Benefit Calculator does NOT factor in taxes that you will owe on the unemployment compensation, or impacts to your retirement benefits. This calculator is not intended to be a substitute for advice from a financial advisor.

Q. How am I supposed to report my work hours each week?

  1. Follow the instructions from your supervisor or Human Resources. 

Q. If I take paid leave (sick leave, CARES Act Emergency Sick Leave, vacation, personal leave, comp time, etc) during the workshare period, how does that affect my unemployment compensation?

  1. Our current understanding is that any paid leave not related to COVID-19 that is taken in a week during the workshare period will impact your unemployment compensation for that week. We do not yet know exactly what that impact entails. All we can say with certainty is that taking paid leave during the workshare period that is NOT related to COVID-19 can cause you to lose all or a portion of your unemployment compensation for the week. If you do not receive any unemployment compensation for the week through Work Share, then you will also not receive the $600/week FPUC stimulus money for that week.

One last point of clarification: we cannot use paid leave to cover lost hours because that would be double dipping – in other words, getting paid twice for those hours. Nobody is seeking to modify that rule.

Q. Will my University be approving paid leave (vacation, comp time, personal leave, sick leave, etc) during the workshare period?

  1. Yes. Universities will continue to approve all requests for paid leave pursuant to operational need, just as they have always done. However, it is up to you to take into full consideration the impact that the use of any paid leave will have on your Work Share unemployment compensation for any weeks in which you use paid leave. See the above question for more information.

Q. What happens if I am close to the maximum limit for vacation accrual (250 hours) and I can’t take it because it would affect my unemployment benefits?

  1. The union is actively negotiating with all seven public universities around this question. We will update membership when we have a solid answer.

If you are at risk of losing vacation leave, please contact your steward or local officer right away.

Q. If I take FMLA or OFLA leave during the workshare period, how does that interact with my Work Share benefits?

  1. Our current understanding is that if you go on FMLA or OFLA for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, then you would not qualify for unemployment compensation during those weeks. If you enter FMLA or OFLA status for reasons related to COVID-19 that would normally qualify you to receive unemployment compensation, then you may still qualify for unemployment benefits during that time.

Be sure to check with Human Resources and the Oregon Employment Department before planning your finances during a FMLA or OFLA leave while we remain within the workshare period.

Q. How does the hours reduction affect my paid leave accruals (sick leave, vacation leave, personal leave, etc)?

  1. In order to participate in the Oregon Work Share program, the employer must keep their employees whole with respect to their leave accruals. Our current understanding is that everyone will receive their usual rate of leave accruals as though they were still working their normal hours.

We hope to update any LOAs to clear up an erroneous language in the near future.

Q. Will I receive my normal rate of pay for holidays during the workshare period?

  1. The hours reduction does not impact your holiday pay. You will receive your normal rate of pay on holidays during the workshare period, but if your regularly scheduled lost hours fall on a holiday, you will need to take those lost hours somewhere else in the week.

Q. Can the union ask the university to close on one day a week, such as Fridays, as a way to implement hours reductions?

  1. No. The employer determines work schedules, and the universities have decided not to implement the hours reductions through campus closures at this time. However, you may be able to work out your schedule with your supervisor such that you have a long weekend by taking Mondays and/or Fridays as the day(s) you do not work.

Q. I am one of the people who received a 40% hours reduction instead of a 20% hours reduction. Why was I chosen for the higher hours reduction?

  1. Your supervisor must have felt that you were experiencing a lack of work or that you were likely to experience a lack of work during the workshare period. You should ask your supervisor and Human Resources for clarification. There is no formal process to appeal your hours reduction, but if you have credible evidence of discrimination or a violation of our LOA language about allocating different hours reduction amounts within a work unit either unequally or by not following seniority if the employees do the same work, then contact your union steward. If you don’t know who your steward is then call the Member Resource Center at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348) or email highered@seiu503.org.

Q. How do I pay taxes on my unemployment compensation payments, both through Work Share and through FPUC? What if I want to pay those taxes before they come due in 2021?

  1. Answers are available at the OED’s Work Share FAQ. Most of the information below is taken from that website.

According to guidelines from the Department of Labor to the states regarding the $600/week FPUC funds:

Taxable Income. The $600 FPUC is taxable. Therefore, states must include FPUC when preparing 1099Gs, and must, consistent with Section 3304(a)(l8), FUTA (26 U.S.C. §3304(a)(18)), withhold taxes from the weekly benefit amount and from the $600 FPUC, when an individual elects to have taxes withheld. 

In other words, if you follow the directions below to withhold taxes from your unemployment compensation through the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon should also withhold taxes from the $600/week FPUC portion of your benefit.

Oregon will mail a tax form called a 1099-G form to all claimants by the end of January (2021).

You can choose to have state or federal taxes, both, or neither withheld from your benefits using the TAX LIABILITY UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (1040WH) form. You may want to do that and/or adjust your withholdings from your paycheck through a W-4 form to avoid tax penalties (e.g. if you need to make estimated payments this year) or unexpected owed taxes in 2021.

We cannot advise you on what to do with your withholdings. You should consult with a private tax advisor if you want advice specific to your financial situation.

Q. How will my reduction in pay due to an hours reduction affect my PERS retirement?

  1. As long as you work the majority of the work days in a month, which you would do even under a 40% hours reduction, you will continue to get full credit towards your years in PERS for the pension benefit.

Your employer is required to make you whole for any benefits while you are on the work share program. That means the university is required to contribute to PERS as if you were working your normal number of hours prior to participating in work share.

We are trying to clarify with the DOJ and the Governor’s office what impact, if any, participation in work share would have on your final average salary calculation. We are also trying to figure out how work share participation would impact your IAP contribution. Right now our understanding is that the IAP is a contribution the employee makes based on 6% of your pay. If your pay were to be reduced then your contribution to IAP would likewise be reduced.

For Tier 1 / Tier 2 members

PERS calculates your final average salary based on the last 36 months of your employment OR your 3 highest salary years across your entire employment history, whichever is greater.

Benefit Estimate Request for Tier One/Tier Two members. For an online estimate, log in to Online Member Services.

For OPSRP members (hired on or after August 29, 2003)

PERS calculates your final average salary based on the last 36 months of your employment OR your 3 highest consecutive salary years across your entire employment history, whichever is greater.

 

Benefit Estimate Request for OPSRP members. For an online estimate, log in to Online Member Services.

Below is the contact information for PERS Headquarters in Salem.

 

Phone: 888-320-7377 (toll free)

Fax: 503-598-0561

TTY: 503-603-7766

Phone hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Q. Will any of this affect my annual step increase or my cost of living adjustment (COLA) that takes effect on July 1, 2020?

  1. You will still receive a step increase if one is due to you this year on your salary eligibility date. You will still receive a 2.1% COLA that takes effect on July 1, 2020. Our LOAs do not modify those provisions in our contract.

Q. Will the hours reduction affect overtime or flex time?

  1. Yes, in that you cannot exceed your allotted number of work hours in a week under the workshare agreement and still qualify for unemployment compensation for that week. You would still be entitled to receive overtime compensation for working in excess of 8 or 10 hours in a day, depending on your regularly scheduled work hours and whether you have a flexible schedule agreement with your employer, but they will not allow you to exceed your allotted work hours in a week under the workshare agreement.

For example, if you normally work 40 hours in a week and reduce to 32 hours in a week under a 20% workshare agreement, then you will NOT be approved to work any more than 32 hours in a week.

What that means practically is that your employer is unlikely to authorize overtime for anyone during the workshare period. You may be permitted to flex time as long as you do not exceed your max hours in a week under the workshare agreement, but always check with your supervisor before working in excess of your scheduled hours in a day.

Q. I never received a hours reduction notification letter from HR.  Did something go wrong?

  1. Not all workers are subject to hours reductions.  Factors such as the specific work unit, FTE, and source of position funding enter into whether or not a worker has their hours reduced.  Some campuses are not reducing workers’ hours or participating in workshare, but are laying some workers off.

Q. What if I earn money from an off-campus job during the workshare period?

  1. You are required to report most forms of income to the Oregon Employment Department while you are collecting unemployment compensation. You can learn more about the requirements for reporting income while on unemployment in Section 4 of the Claimant Handbook. The Human Resources reporting form includes a section for you to indicate any outside income you made in the reporting week. FAILING TO REPORT OUTSIDE INCOME WHILE PARTICIPATING IN THE WORK SHARE PROGRAM IS FRAUD. FRAUD IS A CRIME and can result in penalties up to and including prosecution.

Depending on how much you earn in outside income in a week, you may disqualify yourself from receiving all or a portion of your unemployment compensation for that week. 

Be extremely careful if you work another job during the workshare period! Please contact OED directly if you have any questions not answered by the Claimant Handbook.

Q. What is the waiting week before we receive unemployment benefits?

  1. The Governor has waived the waiting week requirement. However, the OED computer system is still factoring in a waiting week. For now you won’t see a benefit during the first week but you should expect to see that benefit paid to you retroactively at a later date. 

Q. Will my union dues change during the workshare period?

  1. Your union dues are assessed at 1.7% of your gross pay through SOU in a month, so when your pay through SOU drops, your union dues decrease proportionally. In other words, if your paycheck drops by 20% due to reduced hours, your union dues will also drop by 20%.

Q.Will the amount of longevity pay or differential pay (additional pay I receive based on a percentage of my base pay) be reduced because my scheduled hours have been reduced?

  1. Yes.  The percentages used to calculate premium pay such as differentials remain the same.  However, the total amount the worker will receive each pay period will be reduced in proportion to the hours reduction.  So, for example, under normal conditions a worker earning $2,000 per month in base pay earns an additional $100 per month thanks to a 5% differential.  If that worker’s hours are reduced by 20%, the differential would be reduced by 20%, to $80 per month.  

  1. If I am enrolled in Work Share and then am laid off, does the Work Share weeks of UI impact my overall eligibility?

  1. The weekly and total benefits for a regular UI claim are based on earnings in a base year. The current maximum weekly benefit is $648 and maximum total benefit is 26 x $648.

The maximum total benefit applies to workshare claims too. If a person is laid off and switches from workshare benefits to regular UI benefits during the 52-week claim period, the total benefits available for regular UI benefits will be reduced by the benefits paid under the workshare program.

  1. Does the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payment apply to the total benefits cap or is it excluded?

  1. The $600 FPUC payment does not apply to the cap on Workshare or UI benefits.

Key Terms

  • FPUC Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. This is the $600/week established by the Federal government that citizens are supposed to receive as long as they qualify for at least $1 of unemployment benefits in the week through their home state.
  • OED Oregon Employment Department. The state agency that manages unemployment benefits in the state of Oregon.
  • Work Share – Work Share (also known as Short-Time Compensation or STC) provides an alternative for employers and workers who may be facing layoffs. With Work Share, instead of reducing staff, an employer reduces the hours of work for a group of workers. Partial Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are then paid to supplement workers’ reduced wages.  Click here for the Work Share handbook.  
  • Unemployment Compensation – Money that you receive from the Oregon Employment Department to compensate you for lost wages as a result of reduced work hours. Also referred to as “unemployment benefits.”
  • PERS Public Employees Retirement System. The organization which provides retirement plans to most public employees in Oregon.
  • LOA – Abbreviation for Letter of Agreement. A limited agreement between the employer and the union.  Specific LOAs have been negotiated with some represented employers to address issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic and workforce reductions.