Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito recently passed the “HireNow” Hiring and Training Employer Grant Program for Massachusetts businesses to help recruit and retain employees.
Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, these grants are intended to assist eligible Massachusetts businesses who hire and retain Massachusetts residents. Funding is awarded at a flat rate of $4,000 for each newly hired eligible employee, up to a total of $400,000. The grants are administered by the Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the same department that handles the Massachusetts Workforce Training Grant Program.
To qualify for the program, employers must have a physical business location in Massachusetts and be in good fiscal standing with the state. Funds are distributed on a first come, first serve basis until exhausted and federal, state, and municipal governmental entities are not eligible.
The goal of HireNow is to address the hiring challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages employers to rethink existing hiring practices and seek out candidates who may differ from traditional standards. The program helps employers broaden their recruiting practices to include workers who may not meet traditional qualifications but can fulfill job requirements with additional training upon hire.
The program is only eligible for new hires brought on board between March 23 and Dec. 31 of 2022 only and must be retained for a minimum of 60 days. To qualify as an eligible employee under this program, the employee must be scheduled to work a minimum of 30 hours per week on an on-going basis and there are minimum and maximum wages allowed. Employees must be Massachusetts residents working in Massachusetts and they must be W2 employees; the program does not cover temps or contractors.
These grants could not come at a better time for businesses across Massachusetts. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, employers have endured over two years of some of the most challenging labor markets that they have ever seen. In the advent of the “Great Resignation,” employees have been demanding more flexible working conditions, pay raises or bonuses, or they have simply left their positions all together, putting business owners and HR teams in dire straits searching for replacements.
The availability of these grants will now give employers the capability to be more creative when it comes to their hiring and onboarding processes in this challenging recruiting market.
Some of the unique ways grant dollars can be used include:
- Subsidizing extended on-the-job training during an onboarding period
- Hiring an external trainer to provide technical skills training
- Offering sign-on or retention bonuses if the new hire remains employed for an established amount of time.
- Offering tuition reimbursement benefits
The biggest question remains, where does a business get started with the application process?
The first step is to create a HireNow account with the Commonwealth Cooperative on their website: https://commcorp.org/hirenow/apply
As the employer hires and retains new employees, they can be reimbursed for costs associated with supporting these new employees. In doing so, it is important to pay attention to deadlines! New hires must be registered no later than 60 days after their date of hire and you must verify that they have retained employment for 60 days or more, no later than 120 days after their date of hire.
For businesses interested in taking advantage of this new grant program but don’t know where to start, RogersGray offers an in-house HR Consulting Team that is well-versed in the program requirements and can work alongside an HR team or leadership to develop a plan to maximize this opportunity, whether it’s implementing a specific training program for new hires or crafting new internal policies to ensure compliance with the addition of these new opportunities.
Visit rogersgray.com/hr to learn more and submit an inquiry today.
Jeff Bastien is a Partner and Senior Vice President at RogersGray.