U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced legislation that would provide a bonus for workers who can safely return to work.
The Back to Work Bonus Act bill is designed to counteract enhanced federal unemployment benefits that may be discouraging workers from returning to jobs. Idaho implemented such a program last July, and it reduced the number of Idahoans on unemployment.
Specifically, the bill would provide a one-time payment of either $1,200 (full-time) or $600 (part-time) to unemployed workers who obtain employment, comparable to a hiring bonus. The bonus requires verification from an individual’s employer.
The bill accelerates a scheduled increase in Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) funding to support laid-off workers. It also expands the pool of eligible workers to include those receiving benefits through CARES Act unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Further, it would reinstate the federal work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment. Last March, Congress waived this requirement, and 32 states continue to have a waiver in place.
“The economy is showing strong signs of recovery, and a record number of Americans are being vaccinated each day,” Crapo said. “However, a growing economy requires a willing and able workforce, and many small businesses are having trouble competing with enhanced unemployment benefits. A back-to-work bonus provides an incentive to return to work safely and will help to accelerate our economic recovery.”
The American Rescue Plan Act provides an extension of $300/week in supplemental unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, 2021. As states begin to reopen, the lawmakers said the Back to Work Bonus Act would help connect unemployed workers with jobs.
A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).