Rapid Response is a free, publicly-funded (no cost to participants) service that works to connect employers to programs to minimize or prevent potential layoffs and to connect recently or soon-to-be laid off workers to the various public services available to them to help navigate job loss, including unemployment insurance benefits, health care coverage, training and education resources, career counseling services, and more. Rapid Response services were created as a part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and as this service is funded at the federal level, there is no cost for either employers or employees to utilize them.
Rapid Response: Helping Employers and Employees Facing Layoffs
Helping Businesses Considering Layoffs Find Alternatives
The modern economy is rapidly-changing and often times tumultuous, and unfortunately this often means that employers find themselves considering employee layoffs in order to reduce costs and remain viable. For those employers looking for or open to alternative solutions to layoffs, Rapid Response staff can help connect employers to options such as:
- Work Share: Reduce the hours of any number of employees 20-40% instead of laying them off, while allowing them to receive unemployment insurance benefits for their reduced hours (so they see minimal income loss).
- Incumbent Worker Training: Connect your existing employees to the education and training they need to fulfill the jobs you’re creating as they move out of the jobs you’re reducing.
- On-the-Job-Training (OJT): Get reimbursed for up to half the wages of employees who are learning aspects their new positions.
- Connection to other business support grants and resources (depending upon availability) such as Paycheck Protection Plan Loans, local grants, etc.
When Layoffs Are Inevitable – Helping Laid Off Employees Navigate Resources
If the programs above don’t meet the employer needs and/or the decision to lay off employees is already final, we will provide tailored presentations to the affected staff to cover the various benefits and services they’re eligible for and help explain the process of enrollment. We will work with the employers and employees to schedule these at times that work best for all parties. These generally are about an hour to an hour and a half, and staff from Unemployment Insurance, Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, Employment Services, and Skills and Training will provide information and also directly and thoughtfully answer any and all questions about the services posed. We understand that losing a job and planning next steps during this transition can be overwhelming for many people, and we work to make sure the information answers are accessible as possible to employees, regardless of background.
The services we will present and answer questions about include:
- Unemployment Insurance Benefits
- Health Insurance Options
- Career Counseling
- Job Search Services
- Training and Education Opportunities/Funding
- Rent/Mortgage/Housing assistance (as available)
- Other Programs, as available/applicable
A reminder that these services are all provided at no cost to either the employer or employees. We will work to tailor the presentation to the specific needs of your laid off employees so that all of the information shared is as relevant as possible.
Tailored Presentations and Public Presentations
Before COVID, nearly all of our presentations for employees who were transitioning out of unemployment would be done in person. With the onset of the pandemic, however, we quickly pivoted to online provision of these services via zoom webinars. Because of unprecedented demand, we opened these up to the public regardless of company. These webinars have also shifted to a more Q&A format over time, as most participants have filed unemployment insurance claims but have questions about the process and other program details.
For the foreseeable future, we will continue with zoom webinars as our primary means of sharing information, but we are beginning to provide sessions tailored to individual employers/worker groups once again. Generally these are done at a time that works best for the specific schedules of the employer and their employees. For follow up questions, workers are invited to sign up for and attend our now twice-weekly public webinars every Wednesday and Thursday, which they can do here: https://www.worksystems.org/news-events/news/worksystems-launches-daily-webinars-laid-workers-and-businesses
Our local Rapid Response partners: Oregon Employment Department, Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, Labor’s Community Service Agency, WorkSource Portland Metro, Portland Community College, IRCO and Higher Education Coordination Committee.