ASA Encourages Support of Senator Portman’s “Back-to-Work Bonus Program”

ASA Encourages Support of Senator Portman’s “Back-to-Work Bonus Program”

The American Staffing Association provides a monthly legal update called the ASA Legal Line. This series features a member of the ASA legal team who addresses critical legal, regulatory, and legislative topics that may have a direct impact on your staffing business.

The latest ASA Legal Line installment featured Senator Rob Portman’s “Back-to-Work Bonus Program,” which is a business friendly alternative to the weekly pandemic payment program (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation).

Toby Malara, ASA government affairs counsel, updated members on Senator Rob Portman’s “Back-to-Work Program,” which is a business-friendly alternative to the weekly pandemic payment program (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) and urges your support of this legislative proposal.

In July’s installment of ASA Legal Line, Malara discussed that one of the major provisions of the CARES Act signed into law in April 2020 was the creation of an additional federal $600 weekly pandemic payment, known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, for those individuals receiving unemployment benefits.

Malara stated, “The benefit was designed to encourage people to stay home during the height of the pandemic. An unintended consequence occurred when many who received the expanded unemployment benefit weekly payment ended up making more than when they were working. Therefore, there are growing concerns that this payment is hampering businesses and slowing down economic recovery.” With the majority of states beginning to reopen parts of their economy, this benefit could discourage workers from returning to work.

Senator Portman indicated, “According to recent research from the American Action Forum and from the University of Chicago, between 60-70 percent of individuals currently on unemployment are making more than they did in their prior job thanks to the federal supplement.  Furthermore, the bottom 20 percent of wage earners are making, on average, double what they made in the workforce through this UI program.”

Malara further noted, “Because this benefit is set to expire on July 31, the pandemic payment is one of the major issues being debated in what will likely be the final COVID-19 financial relief package passed by Congress this year.”

Back in June, the House of Representatives passed a version of Phase 4 bill, which included extension of the weekly pandemic payment through January 31, 2021.

The senate leadership dismissed the extension and indicated the pandemic payment is the main reason why businesses, including staffing firms, are struggling to find people to work.

Malara notes, “Over the past weeks, ASA and its members have been meeting with senate offices and strongly urged our support to Senator Rob Portman’s ‘Back-to-Work Bonus Program,’ which is a business-friendly alternative to the weekly pandemic payment program. The Senator’s program would reward individuals who return to the workforce by paying them a $450 weekly bonus for up to four weeks.” This means workers would receive their wages plus this $450 bonus. Portman believes this proposal would ensure there are as few situations as possible where staying on unemployment is more lucrative than returning to work. This proposal is a fair way to encourage unemployed workers to return to the workforce while helping businesses secure employees they need.

ASA encourages, “As negotiations of the House and Senate ramp up it is critical that all staffing owners reach out to your senator and urge them to support Senator Portman’s plan. Share with your Senators how difficult it is to find employees to fill open orders and the role the $600 weekly pandemic payment is playing. Senate offices need to hear from their constituents that the ‘Back-to-Work Bonus Program’ will bring more people back into the workplace and help drive economic recovery, and an extension of the $600 weekly pandemic payment into 2021 will do the exact opposite.”

Go to to find phone numbers of your Senators in Washington D.C.

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ASA July Legal Line