Baker offering employers $4,000 for each worker hired
Money dispensed on first-come, first-served basis through end of year
FRUSTRATED AT the disconnect in Massachusetts between available jobs and available employees, the Baker administration is offering for-profit and non-profit employers $4,000 for each new worker they hire this year.
The goal of the HireNow program is to give employers an incentive to recruit and train workers who they normally would not bring in for an interview because of their lack of skills. “This is a great opportunity to say there’s no experience needed,” said Rosalin Acosta, the governor’s secretary of labor and workforce development. She unveiled the program along with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at a press conference Wednesday at LabCentral, a Cambridge-based incubator in the biotech and life sciences sectors.
What’s remarkable about the program is its lack of red tape. Grant recipients must have a physical business location in Massachusetts and the employees they hire must work at least two months and get paid the annual equivalent of $21,375 to $85,000 a year. On an hourly basis, pay can run from $14.25 to $42.50 an hour.
But there are few other requirements. Employers are free to use the money however they see fit. They are not required to document their training methods or specific expenses. They can collect up to $400,000, for 100 employees, and the money will be dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis through the end of the year or whenever the $50 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds run out.
Acosta said 35 percent of the job openings are in the professional and management sectors, but most of the available employees don’t see themselves working in that field. “They don’t know how to get there,” she said.
The $4,000-per-employee grant is intended to act as an incentive to overcome all the hiring hurdles. Employers can use the money to provide bonuses, to provide training, to offset education options, or pursue other options.“This idea of creating what I would call a kick-starter fund — that’s how I think about it — will give employers an opportunity to go outside their traditional circles to find people who they might not normally bring in the door,” Baker said.
Employers must have a physical presence in Massachusetts but they don’t have to be headquartered here. New hires must receive W2s, be Massachusetts residents, and be working in Massachusetts. The new-hire grant can only be obtained once for each employee.