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The Voluntary Shared Work Program

The Voluntary Shared Work Program (VSW) is Iowa's version of Short Term Compensation (STC).

The Voluntary Shared Work Program (VSW) is an alternative to layoffs during declines in regular business activity. Under VSW, work reductions are shared by reducing employees’ work hours and Unemployment Insurance (UI) partially replaces lost earnings. By avoiding layoffs, employees stay connected to their jobs and employers maintain their skilled workforce for when business improves.

VSW vs. Regular Unemployment Insurance

Currently, laid off employees can receive UI benefits for up to 26 weeks at a maximum of $511 per week. This amount is charged against an employer’s UI tax account.

With VSW, employees receive a fraction of regular UI benefits equal to the percent of their work hour reduction. The employer sets the duration of the plan (with agency approval), along with the percent of the full weekly UI benefit payment the employee receives. Workers can receive a portion of their UI benefits even if hours are reduced by as little as 20 percent.

Employer Advantages

Under VSW, employers can:

  • Maintain productivity and quality levels (because the same experienced employees are doing the same work)

  •  Keep the ability to expand operations quickly when business conditions improve

  • Reduce training costs by keeping the workforce intact

  • Avoid costs related to hiring and reassignments

  • Avoid transfers, demotions, and tenure based layoffs

Employee Advantages

With VSW, employees can:

  • Keep job skills sharp

  • Maintain a higher family income than with UI benefits alone

  • Keep health insurance and retirement benefits

  • Continue building job tenure

VSW Requirements

To participate in VSW, the employer must submit a short application that:

  • Provides an estimate of the number of layoffs that would occur without VSW

  • Lists the percent of reduction in affected employees’ work hours (must be between 20 percent and 50 percent and be the same for all affected employees)

  • Certify that the reduction in hours is in lieu of layoffs

  • Includes written approval from the affected employees’ collective bargaining representative (if applicable)

A VSW plan must affect at least five employees. VSW cannot be used for seasonal work reductions. A participating employer’s quarterly UI reports must be current and UI taxes paid in full.

To be eligible to participate in VSW, affected employees must:

  • Qualify for UI benefits

  • Not have an existing UI claim in another state

  • Be able and available to work their usual hours of work for the VSW employer

For additional information, email vswclaims@iwd.iowa.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions
Fact Sheet


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