WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today joined Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID) to introduce the “Back to Work Bonus Act.” The bill addresses the detrimental impact enhanced federal unemployment benefits have had on disincentivizing Americans from safely returning to the workforce and the subsequent strain on employers and our nation’s economic recovery.
“Alabama businesses are now open, which is great news after a year of uncertainty caused by COVID-19,” said Senator Tuberville. “Unfortunately, now many employers are competing with padded unemployment benefits that encourage Americans to stay home and live off the government rather than going back to work to provide for themselves. This legislation incentivizes those on the sidelines to safely return to work and add fuel to an economy that continues to gain steam.”
The American Rescue Plan Act provided an extension of $300/week in supplemental unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021. As states begin to reopen, the expansion of benefits has presented serious challenges for businesses trying to hire or recall workers. The Back to Work Bonus Act would help connect unemployed workers with jobs to get the economy going again.
House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady introduced identical legislation in the House, the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2021.
- Time limited back-to-work bonuses: Makes work pay by providing 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 of their hours and earnings and would be available through July 1, 2021.
- Reemployment services: In recognition of the increased need for support to laid off workers, the bill accelerates a scheduled increase in funding for Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) and expands the pool of eligible workers to include those receiving benefits through CARES Act unemployment programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
- Reinstate job search requirement: The bill reinstates the federal work search requirement for individuals receiving unemployment. Last March, when businesses were closed, Congress provided flexibility for states to waive this requirement. Thirty-two states continue to have a waiver in place. Reopening the economy will require connecting all available workers to job openings.
A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.