Keystone Works Program Bill Passes House, Moves to Senate

Bill would give employers 8 free weeks of work in exchange for job training

Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York)

HARRISBURG – Legislation authored by Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York) that would enable unemployed workers to more easily land a new job was passed by the House of Representatives Tuesday evening.

The measure, House Bill 1539, would establish the Keystone Works program, a new gateway to employment for those who have lost their jobs or have difficulty finding work in this challenging economy. The voluntary program pairs interested unemployed persons with businesses seeking to hire for open positions.

While receiving unemployment benefits, the person can then work for the business for 24 hours per week for eight weeks at no cost to the employer. As part of the agreement the employer is required to provide skills training to the employee and at the end of the eight weeks the employer is required to hire the person or follow-up his or her service with a constructive performance evaluation. Claimants may also opt to continue participation in the program and are not required to accept an offer of employment at the end of the training period.

“We can change the approach to unemployment in Pennsylvania so that it’s no longer just a race against the clock to find a new job before your benefits run out, it can be a time to build the skills for your next career, and build a rapport with a potential employer,” Saylor said. “Our unemployment system can be a stepping stone that provides folks with the opportunity to learn the skills they would not otherwise have an opportunity to build.”

Saylor, a former small business owner, modeled the legislation after a very successful initiative in Georgia that has helped more than 3,000 unemployed Georgians land permanent jobs.

“I often make the point that government does not create jobs or wealth, but it can instill policies that foster an environment conducive to economic growth,” Saylor said. “House Bill 1539 has the support of the state Senate and Governor Tom Corbett, and I am hopeful this measure will soon become law and start to assist out-of-work Pennsylvanians land new jobs that will help revitalize our economy.”


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