After many months of businesses struggling to get workers back into the workforce following COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday the state will be offering a $1,500, return-to-work incentive bonus for qualifying Kentuckians.
Kentuckians who return to work between June 24 and July 30 will be eligible for the bonus upon completion of 120 hours of work in the four weeks following their return to the workplace. Those workers may apply for their incentive once the state portal opens August 1.
There will be 15,000 of the one-time, $1,500 bonuses available on a first come, first serve basis, totaling $22.5 million.
The bonuses will be paid for by the state out of federal funds granted through the coronavirus relief stimulus package.
To qualify, an individual has to be 18 years of age and an unemployed Kentucky resident who has an active, non-fraudulent unemployment insurance claim who secures employment with a Kentucky business during the June 24 to July 30 time frame.
Employers will have to submit information to the state confirming the employment of an individual as well as the hours worked.
The move comes as businesses across the state are voicing their struggle to find employees. Recently, the Kentucky Chamber has highlighted the devastating impacts of the state’s workforce shortage and stated publicly that the additional $300 a week in unemployment insurance benefits through the federal government should be phased out as soon as possible.
On Thursday, in reaction to the governor’s announcement about the new return to work incentive, the Kentucky Chamber released the following statement:
“Kentucky’s economy cannot truly recover until our workforce recovers. During COVID, our workforce shrank by 112,000 Kentuckians, and few have returned. Employers are desperate, and the long-term consequences of not addressing this problem will be severe. This is a multi-faceted problem that needs multi-faceted solutions. Return-to-work incentives could be a part of this, as well as phasing out the $300 federal unemployment insurance benefit and increasing access to affordable, high-quality child care. The business community hopes this new incentive program will encourage Kentuckians to return to work, but we must also pursue other solutions,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts.