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Gov. Beshear Announces Return-to-Work Incentive

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 24, 2021) — Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new incentive plan today to pay as many as 15,000 Kentuckians on unemployment insurance a one-time $1,500 bonus to rejoin the workforce by July 30.

The Governor set aside $22.5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to pay for the program to incentivize more people to leave unemployment insurance and begin filling job vacancies throughout the commonwealth, to further ignite an economy that is beginning to lift off as Kentucky emerges from the pandemic with weekly job announcements and positive economic news.

“We want every Kentuckian working and participating as we sprint out of this pandemic with our economy booming,” Gov. Beshear said. “We wanted the right solution – not a red state or blue state solution – to thread this needle right to energize our thriving economy while looking out for those still trying to emerge from this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic who desperately need help. This is a step in the right direction for our people, our economy and our employers.”

“On behalf of Houchens Industries, its family of companies and the entire community, we applaud the Governor’s action taken today to incentivize employees to return to work,” said Spencer A. Coates, president of Houchens Industries Inc. in Bowling Green.

To qualify, an applicant must:

  • Be a Kentucky resident;
  • Be employed by a Kentucky business between June 24 and July 30, 2021; and
  • Have an active unemployment insurance claim as of June 23, 2021.

Employers will be responsible for completing an online application verifying that employees accepted employment between June 24 and July 30, 2021. They must also verify that employees worked 120 hours in the four weeks following new employment.

A full outline of the criteria to qualify is available on the Back to Work Incentive website, teamkybacktowork.ky.gov. The application will be available beginning Aug. 1.

The first 15,000 people to successfully qualify will be approved for a $1,500 taxable incentive. The last day to file an application for the Team Kentucky Back to Work Incentive is Oct. 1, 2021.

The Public Protection Cabinet will administer the program and process applications.

The incentive plan is the latest effort from Gov. Beshear and his administration to continue the commonwealth’s economic momentum as the state builds back stronger following the effects of the pandemic.

Last week, Gov. Beshear announced Kentucky’s year-to-date private-sector new-location and expansion figures, which include over $2 billion in total planned investment and the creation of 4,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Through May, Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage is $23.15 before benefits, a 4.7% increase over the previous year.

Last month, Moody’s Analytics published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky, noting mass vaccination as the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services. The state’s recovery, Moody’s said, benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. The report also found Kentucky’s manufacturing industry outperformed the nation’s since the national downturn last year.

Fitch Ratings last month improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.

In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million. Site Selection also recently placed Kentucky in a tie for fifth in its 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.

Kentucky Child Care Providers Awarded $763 Million in Federal Funds
The Governor also announced today that Kentucky has been awarded more than $763 million in federal funds to provide relief for financially stressed child care providers, further helping Kentuckians with young children return to work. To learn more, see the full release.


Back to Work Incentive


What is the Team Kentucky Back to Work Incentive?

The Team Kentucky Back to Work (BTW) Incentive is a program created by Governor Andy Beshear to help get Kentucky businesses re-staffed and get workers back on the job. The incentive is a $1,500 payment, which will be given to qualifying Kentuckians who reenter the workforce between June 24 and July 30, 2021.  This is not a guaranteed program. 

Who Is Qualified To Apply?

Persons who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to be qualified for the incentive:

  • Must have a valid and active unemployment claim who has requested weekly payments as of June 23, 2021.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must not be job-connected and/or does not have a job recall date.
  • Must be a worker who starts a new job with a Kentucky employer after June 24, but before July 30, 2021.
  • Must be a newly employed worker who works 120 hours in four (4) weeks after being hired.
  • Must be one of the first 15,000 to verify eligibility between August 1 and October 1, 2021.
  • Must be an applicant whose employer completes an application/verification via-online form available on BTW webpage.
    • The employer must upload verification documents that individual became employed between June 24 and July 30 and;
    • The employer must upload copies of check stubs verifying 120 hours of work over 4 weeks of employment.

 Who is Not Qualifying?

  • Non-Kentucky residents
  • Workers not employed by a Kentucky business
  • Individuals younger than 18
  • Self-employed or 1099 workers
  • A person who is job connected, or has a job recall date
  • A recipient of unemployment insurance (UI) who has exhausted all their UI eligibility

 How Will Applications Be Processed and Approved?

The Public Protection Cabinet administers the Back to Work Incentive program. All applications will be reviewed to insure all eligibility criteria have been met. Final determinations are not appealable.


 Program Dates/Deadlines

  • June 23, 2021 – Individual participating must have an active claim as of this date.
  • July 30, 2021 – Last day for an individual to begin work at new job.
  • August 1, 2021 – First day to file an application for the Back to Work Incentive Program.
  • October 1, 2021 – Last day to file an application for the Back to Work Incentive Program.

This program is available to the first 15,000 deemed qualifying and is not guaranteed.