Companies cite new government benefits as they lay off workers

When Equinox had to start laying off some employees at its chain of high-end fitness clubs, Executive Chairman Harvey Spevak sent a surprising message to stakeholders.

“We think most will be better off with government assistance during our shutdown,” he said in an email. The company said the majority of employees remain on its payroll.

Equinox joins a number of companies, including Macy’s Inc. and Steelcase Inc., which cite strengthened federal unemployment benefits as they lay off or lay off staff in the middle the coronavirus pandemic. The stimulus package changes the math for some employers, who can now cut payroll costs without feeling like they are abandoning their employees.

“I get a lot of calls from clients wondering why I wouldn’t do this if my employee can earn as much or sometimes more without working, and I don’t need it and I can reduce that cost,” Christine Lamb said. , a Denver-based labor attorney from Fortis Law Partners. “I got a ton of calls from customers asking if this was a win-win.”

New stimulus plan will give employees who have been made redundant or whose hours have been reduced by an additional $ 600 each week for up to four months in addition to their state’s regular unemployment benefits. The $ 600 alone is equivalent to working 40 hours a week at $ 15 an hour. For someone who works full time and normally earns $ 7.25 an hour, which is more than double their income before they are laid off.

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