CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A new state program aims to give businesses an alternative to layoffs during periods of economic downturn.

Employers can now apply for the Short-Time Compensation (STC) Program through WorkForce West Virginia according to a press release from the agency.

The program will allow employees who’ve had their hours reduced to collect a percentage of their unemployment compensation (UC) benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

“The STC program provides a prorated amount of the unemployment compensation payment that workers would have received if they were fully unemployed,” Acting Commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia Scott Adkins said in the release. “Employees will also receive the same healthcare and retirement benefits they had access to before the reduction in hours.”

Businesses must have an approved plan with WorkForce West Virginia to be eligible for the STC program, and must also apply and be approved by WorkForce West Virginia and the STC Unit for employees to be eligible for STC funds. Employers must also reduce hours by at least 10 percent but no more than 60 percent of the workweek to qualify.

More information is available on the WorkForce West Virginia website.