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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 intended for use as an alternative to layoffs and has been an effective tool for Iowa businesses experiencing a decline 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 regular hours of work for the VSW employer

Instructions for enrolling employees in Voluntary Shared Work and reporting their hours

Following approval of a Voluntary Shared Work plan, you will complete and submit the Employer Filed Claim Sample Excel Spreadsheet" to enroll your employees into the program.  Most of the information needed can be transferred from payroll records.  Your employees will need to complete the Data Collection and Tax Withholding form.  UI payments are deposited to a state issued debit card unless a Direct Deposit form is submitted.  These forms are used to determine the number of dependents, method of payment and desired tax withholding which will assist you in completing information requested on the spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet should be submitted no later than Wednesday of the first week that you will be active in the program.  If you have been approved to backdate your application, send it in as soon as you have it ready.  Your employees cannot be paid until they have been enrolled in the program.

Each week that your VSW plan is in operation, you will submit the number of hours that each employee enrolled in the program has worked.  Regardless of the company pay period, you will be reporting for weeks that run from Sunday through Saturday.  For example, if you had enrolled in the program effective Sunday, October 5, 2014, the workers' hours for the period October 5th through October 11th would have been submitted on Monday, October 13th.  This would have allowed your employees to receive their first benefit payment by Friday, October 17th.

Hours for your employees are submitted using an excel spreadsheet, in one column with a single data line for each employee (see instructions.)

You will need to call or send an email to the VSW coordinator at vswclaims@iwd.iowa.gov if:

  • you find that hours for an employee were under or over reported (include the employee's name, last 4 digits of the social security number, the week and the corrected number of hours in the email)

  • you find that you need to make changes after you have begun the program, such as putting employees on indefinite layoff, adding more units to the program or adding exempt employees

  • you have employees participating in the VSW program who are discharged or quit (include the spreadsheet for the employee to be removed from the VSW program, the date and reason for separation and the completed  Notice of Separation form.

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

Frequently Asked Questions
Fact Sheet


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