Businesses take advantage of federal program
by Elsie Hodnett
Mar 16, 2010 | 1730 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Area employers are encouraged to participate in a wage reimbursement program that six businesses are already taking advantage of.

“St. Clair County has 18 Family Assistance recipients currently enrolled in the Subsidized Employment Program,” said Beverly Abbott, Financial Support supervisor for the St. Clair County Department of Human Resources.

Abbott said the SEP, a federal program, is available to all Alabama employers. All 67 counties are involved in matching employers with employees that can get involved with SEP.

“There are six area businesses that are participating and receiving reimbursement of wages for these 18 county residents,” she said. “Several businesses have hired more than one employee through the program, which ends Sept. 30, 2010.”

Abbott said employers who hire individuals who are part of the Family Assistance Program may be eligible to be reimbursed for 100 percent of gross wages paid to each qualifying individual for up to six months.

According to the SEP Employer Fact Sheet, employers will be reimbursed for 100 percent of the employee’s gross wages, including mandatory withholdings such as the employee’s cost of FICA and taxes, but excluding the employer’s costs for FICA and other mandatory taxes. Workman’s Comp must be purchased by the employer, but is not reimbursable. The employers may not hire an employee through this program to fill a vacant employment position if another individual is on strike/layoff from the same or an equivalent job or terminate or reduce the hours of a regular employee to hire an SEP participant.

The employees should be hired to work 35 to 40 hours per week and receive the same pay and employee benefits as any other employee who is performing similar work. Other guidelines apply.

“The purpose of the SEP is to provide time-limited training and paid employment to Family Assistance recipients and to serve as a transition to unsubsidized paid employment,” Abbott said.

She said the 18 employees in St. Clair County now working through SEP are excited about having full-time jobs and look forward to proving their value as employees.

“If all of the subsidized positions do not result in permanent employment, the employees still will have gained work experience that can be used to seek other paid employment when the placement ends,” she said. “The employer benefits by having his or her expenses reimbursed, but also by knowing they are providing someone out of work with a job to help care for their family. More employed county residents also gives a boost to our local economy.”

Abbott said four Family Assistance recipients just started new jobs working 35 hours or more per week. The process involved with providing employers with people to interview, enrolling businesses as SEP employers, and having employees start working can be done within a few days. SEP employees must be enrolled in the Family Assistance Program to qualify for wage reimbursement.

“If an employer has a position to be filled, the JOBS program case manager, Jeanetta Estell, along with the JOBS case aide Darnell Grooms, will work diligently to find a Family Assistance recipient that can meet that need with minimal training,” she said.

Abbott said new recipients are being added to the St. Clair County Family caseload every week. Family Assistance Program recipients may also contact St. Clair County DHR about potential employment through SEP.

“With the end date for the program of Sept. 30, 2010, it is important for employers to contact DHR immediately to take advantage of the full six months of reimbursement of wages,” she said. “However, placements can be less than six months, depending on the needs of the employer and the date of the hire.”

Employers interested in hiring through SEP should contact Darnell Grooms at 205-338-1202 for more information.

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