Get paid $2000 to go back to work!
By: Joshua C. Black, Esq.
Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey announced an unconventional way to encourage Arizonans to get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic – cash bonuses. The Return to Work Bonus (RTWB) program will also provide money to help offset childcare costs and offer community college opportunities to qualifying participants.
Arizona is one of a growing number of states across the U.S. offering one-time cash bonuses to Americans willing to return to work. These programs are part of a bigger plan designed to help businesses struggling to hire new employees and meet the growing demand for food, beverage and leisure services now that COVID-19 numbers are subsiding and the end of the global pandemic is in sight.
Arizona’s Return to Work Bonus program, eligibility requirements:
1. Bonuses may be available for individuals who were receiving unemployment benefits on May 15, 2021, or who filed for unemployment benefits in Arizona on or before May 15, 2021.
Individuals filing initial unemployment benefit claims after May 15, 2021, will not be eligible for the RTWB, even if they are filing for weeks prior to the benefit week ending May 15, 2021.
Individuals must be eligible to receive benefits for the benefit week ending May 15, 2021, although their benefit payment may be issued in a later week.
2. Payments will be made to individuals returning to the workforce between May 13, 2021 and Sept. 6, 2021, and who have begun full-time or part-time qualifying employment.
3. In order to qualify, individuals must be working the equivalent of eight 40-hour weeks (320 hours) or more over the first 10 weeks after returning to work at a qualifying job OR those working the equivalent of eight 20-hour weeks (160 hours) or more over the first 10 weeks after returning to work at a qualifying job.
4. Individuals must not continue to receive unemployment benefits after they return to work.
5. Bonus recipients must make less than $25 per hour, equivalent to $52,000 annually, at their new, qualifying job.
6. Program participants can only receive the RTWB one time.
7. Bonus amounts are $2,000 for full-time employees, $1,000 for part-time employees.
The Department of Economic Security (DES) plans to launch an online portal for program applications on or around July 10, 2021. On the site, individuals will be able to apply for the RTWB program and get additional program information.
In the meantime, if you believe you will qualify for these monies – or if you are motivated to get back to work because of the bonuses – the DES is advising you to keep copies of paycheck stubs as proof of employment. Additionally, bonus candidates will also need to provide the state with an employer contact for employment verification to qualify for payment.
Currently, DES intends to distributed RTWB payments via direct deposit, but can also issue paper checks if needed. The RTWB is a first-come, first-serve program available until $300 million in bonus payments are issued or Nov. 15, 2021, whichever happens first.
If you have questions about qualifying for the Return to Work Bonus program, or would like to speak with an Arizona employment attorney regarding your potential eligibility, reach out to the Law Office of Joshua Black, PLC, at (623) 738-2225.