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§28-44-71  Back To Work Rhode Island Program. –

Published: 2015

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Labor and Labor Relations


Employment Security – Benefits

SECTION 28-44-71

   § 28-44-71  Back to Work Rhode Island

Program. –

(a) Legislative findings and purpose. The general assembly hereby finds

as follows:

   (1) As of January 1, 2013, Rhode Island's unemployment rate

is the highest in the New England region and above the national average;

   (2) Despite this high unemployment, businesses report

difficulties and frustration in locating employment candidates with the

requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities they need;

   (3) In an uncertain economy, employers are hesitant to invest

in training if there is a risk the investment will not result in a qualified

and skilled employee;

   (4) Despite the need for skilled employees, job seekers face

difficulties in getting their "foot in the door" to demonstrate their value to

potential employers;

   (5) Statistics indicate that unemployment compensation

claimants who participated in employer-partnered, structured training programs

return to work more quickly than those who do not, and that such programs have

saved significant sums of employment security funds;

   (6) The purpose of the "Back to Work Rhode Island Program" is

to provide claimants with planned, structured, and career-relevant job training

to gain new skills and abilities and help increase their prospects for

employment, and assist employers in locating and obtaining skilled and well

qualified job candidates for open employment positions.

   (b) Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the

following terms shall have the following meanings:

   (1) "Claimant" means a person collecting unemployment

security benefits under the provisions of chapters 28-42 through 28-44 of this


   (2) "Department" means the Rhode Island department of labor

and training;

   (3) "Director" means the director of the Rhode Island

department of labor and training;

   (4) "Participating employer" means an employer who has

voluntarily agreed to participate in the "Back to Work Rhode Island Program"

and meets the criteria for participation established by this section and as

determined by the director;

   (5) "Program" means the "Back to Work Rhode Island Program"

established under this section;

   (6) "Skill enhancement and job training" means a planned,

structured learning environment for the primary benefit of the trainee and from

which the participating employer derives no immediate advantage and which is

designed to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the employer's

specifications for an occupation or trade.

   (7) "Unemployment benefits" means the money payable to a

claimant for his or her wage losses due to unemployment, payable pursuant to

chapters 42 through 44 of this title, and includes any amounts payable pursuant

to an agreement under federal law providing for compensation, assistance, or

allowances with respect to unemployment.

   (c) Program established.

   (1) The "Back to Work Rhode Island Program" is hereby

established and shall be administered by the department of labor and training.

   (2) The program shall be designed so as to permit a claimant

to be matched with an employer participating in the program and be placed in

department-approved skill enhancement and job training made available by the

employer. Participation by both claimant and employer shall be voluntary. The

employer shall provide the claimant with skill enhancement and job training

relevant to an open employment position for up to twenty-four (24) hours per

week for up to six (6) weeks. Upon completion of the six (6) week period,

claimants must be considered for employment by the employer. During the six (6)

week period, the employer shall not compensate the claimant in any way other

than the training that the claimant receives through participation in the

program. Both the employer and the claimant may terminate participation in the

program at any time.

   (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title to the

contrary, no otherwise eligible individual shall be denied unemployment

benefits because of his or her participation in the "Back to Work Rhode Island

Program"; provided, however, that contingent upon appropriation, said claimant

may receive a reasonable stipend in an amount determined by the director to

cover any additional costs associated with their participation in the program,

including, but not limited to, transportation or childcare costs.

   (4) The department shall notify employers of the availability

of the program and shall provide employers with information and materials

necessary to participate upon request.

   (5) The department shall continuously monitor the program to

ensure that participating employers enter the program in good faith with the

genuine expectation of hiring for the open position and with the intent and

ability to provide relevant skill enhancement and job training.

   (6) The department shall develop and conduct an orientation

program for participating claimants and employers informing them of the rules,

regulations, opportunities, and limitations of the "Back to Work Rhode Island


   (7) A claimant may stay in the program if they exhaust

benefits or lose program eligibility prior to the end of the six (6) week


   (8) Participation in the program by a claimant shall be

limited to six (6) weeks in any benefit year. A claimant shall be encouraged to

end a training relationship that is not beneficial and shall be encouraged to

preserve the remainder of his or her six (6) weeks of training for another

training opportunity.

   (9) In order to participate, a claimant must be seeking work

and must be able to work, available to work, and accept work during the

training period.

   (10) Interested claimants shall be encouraged, but not

required, to find employment opportunities that align with their current job

skills, knowledge and experience. Employers shall be encouraged to work with

the department to locate claimants with current job skills, knowledge, and

experience that align with the requirements of an open employment opportunity;

   (11) The claimant and the employer must agree upon a formal

training plan and schedule which must be approved by the department and may

include on-site training, education, and the application of skills or


   (12) Participation in the program may be limited based on

program capacity as determined by the department.

   (13) The "Back to Work Rhode Island Program" will begin on

October 1, 2013 and will expire on December 31, 2014. New participants will not

be enrolled after November 18, 2014.

   (d) Eligibility to be a participating employer.

   (1) An employer wishing to participate in the "Back to Work

Rhode Island Program" shall be required to meet the following qualifications,

in addition to any further criteria established by the director:

   (i) The employer must conduct business in Rhode Island;

although, the business need not be domestic to Rhode Island;

   (ii) The employer must have a full-time position of

employment available that the employer is desirous of filling;

   (iii) The employer must be willing and able to provide a

participating claimant with skills enhancement and job training focused toward

the position that is available;

   (iv) The employer must certify that he, she, they, or it will

not pay any wages or provide any payment in kind to the claimant during the

course of the claimant's participation in the program;

   (v) The employer must certify that he, she, they, or it will,

at completion of the training period, consider the claimant for employment in

the full time position for which the claimant was trained;

   (vi) The employer must agree to follow up a claimant's

participation in the program with a performance evaluation of the claimant,

regardless of whether or not the claimant is hired for employment;

   (vii) The employer must agree to provide information as

requested by the department and verify that employment of a participating

claimant will not displace nor have any impact on a promotion due an existing


   (viii) The employer must certify that the employment and

training opportunity is not due to a lockout, strike, or other labor dispute;


   (ix) For employers with employees who are subject to

collective bargaining, the written approval by the collective bargaining

representative for each affected unit shall be required to be included in the

plan for any job training for a position which would otherwise be covered by a

collective bargaining agreement.

   (e) Eligibility to be a participating claimant.

   (1) An individual receiving unemployment benefits and wishing

to participate in the "Back to Work Rhode Island Program" must meet the

following qualifications:

   (i) The individual must be eligible to receive Rhode Island

unemployment compensation benefits;

   (ii) The individual must continue to file weekly continued

claims to receive benefits unless otherwise exempted;

   (iii) The individual must continue to look for work and

employment opportunities during their participation in the program, unless

otherwise exempt;

   (iv) The individual must certify that he or she understands

that participation in the program includes no guarantee of employment;

   (v) The individual must attend a mandatory orientation to be

offered by the department;

   (vi) The individual must agree to provide relevant

information as requested by the department and to cooperate with requests from

the department for the evaluation of aspects of the "Back to Work Rhode Island


   (2) Claimants with a definite recall date within six (6)

weeks and those who do not register for employment services are not eligible

for the program.

   (f) Workers' compensation.

   (1) The department will provide workers compensation coverage

for participating claimants.

   (2) A claimant's participation in the program does not create

an employment relationship with the department for the purposes of Chapter


   (3) For the purposes of computing an approved claimant's wage

compensation and benefit amount under Chapter 28-29, the average weekly wage

shall be the claimant's maximum weekly unemployment compensation benefit rate

for the benefit year in effect at the time of injury.

   (g) Rules and regulations. The director shall

promulgate such rules and regulations as the director deems necessary to

implement the provisions of this section.

   (h) Program Performance monitoring. The department

shall develop and implement a performance monitoring system which does the


   (1) Collects critical information on the "Back to Work Rhode

Island Program" on an annual basis or more frequently as determined by the

director, including:

   (i) Increases in claimant skills.

   (ii) Skill training being provided by businesses.

   (iii) Placement of claimants after training.

   (iv) Challenges foreseen by businesses.

   (v) Business training best practices.

   (vi) Amount of weeks claimants received unemployment

compensation benefits after completion of the training period.

   (2) Defines the benefits of the program and its training to

businesses, claimants and the Employment Security Fund.

   (i) Funding. Creation of the "Back to Work Rhode

Island Program" is contingent upon funding.

History of Section.

(P.L. 2013, ch. 144, art. 15, § 2; P.L. 2013, ch. 181, § 1; P.L.

2013, ch. 241, § 1.)