What to do if an employer refuses to participate in the state work-share program?

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What to do if an employer refuses to participate in the state work-share program?

My company recently cut the hours of everyone due to lack of business. Its a restaurant and the work is seasonal, so it is slower in the winter. Due to slow business they cut the hours of everyone (from 5 to 2 days a week). The company does not participate in CA’s work share program (partial unemployment that the employer must sign off on). It leaves everyone struggling for a few months. They don’t want to participate because they claim it raises their tax liability. In his situation, what is an employee supposed to do?

Asked on December 2, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In CA, the "work-share" program permits for the payment of unemployment insurance benefits to workers whose wages and hours have been reduced. The program is considered a temporary and practical alternative to layoffs. However, it is a voluntary program in which an employer may or may not participate (an employer must also meet certain requirements to be eligible). 

The fact is that, an employer can impose a reduced work schedule or most any other requirement if your employment is "at will".  And most employment relationships are.  Unfortunately, without some other "underemployment" benefit, you can choose either to work for your current employer or not, or  find a temporary part-time job.  Exceptions to "at will" employment may be found in an employment contract (or a union agreement), if one exists, or this action goes against company policy, or came about due to some form of discrimination.  Otherwise, your employer's action is legally permissible.


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