(1) Employment will be considered suitable unless:
(1) Employment will be considered suitable unless:
(i) The wage offered is less than the highest of the applicable Federal minimum wage, the applicable State minimum wage, or eighty percent (80%) of the Federal minimum wage if neither the Federal nor State minimum wage is applicable.
(ii) The employment offered is on a piece-rate basis and the average hourly yield the employee can reasonably be expected to earn is less than the applicable hourly wages specified under paragraph (h)(1)(i) of this section.
(iii) The household member, as a condition of employment or continuing employment, is required to join, resign from, or refrain from joining any legitimate labor organization.
(iv) The work offered is at a site subject to a strike or lockout at the time of the offer unless the strike has been enjoined under section 208 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. 78) (commonly known as the Taft-Hartley Act), or unless an injunction has been issued under section 10 of the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. 160).
(v) It fails to meet additional suitability criteria established by State agencies.
(2) In addition, employment will be considered suitable unless the household member involved can demonstrate or the State agency otherwise becomes aware that:
(i) The degree of risk to health and safety is unreasonable.
(ii) The member is physically or mentally unfit to perform the employment, as documented by medical evidence or by reliable information from other sources.
(iii) The employment offered within the first 30 days of registration is not in the member's major field of experience.
(iv) The distance from the member's home to the place of employment is unreasonable considering the expected wage and the time and cost of commuting. Employment will not be considered suitable if daily commuting time exceeds 2 hours per day, not including the transporting of a child to and from a child care facility. Nor will employment be considered suitable if the distance to the place of employment prohibits walking and neither public nor private transportation is available to transport the member to the jobsite.
(v) The working hours or nature of the employment interferes with the member's religious observances, convictions, or beliefs.
(i) Good cause.
(1) The State agency is responsible for determining good cause when a SNAP recipient fails or refuses to comply with SNAP work requirements. Since it is not possible for the Department to enumerate each individual situation that should or should not be considered good cause, the State agency must take into account the facts and circumstances, including information submitted by the employer and by the household member involved, in determining whether or not good cause exists.
(2) Good cause includes circumstances beyond the member's control, such as, but not limited to, illness, illness of another household member requiring the presence of the member, a household emergency, the unavailability of transportation, or the lack of adequate child care for children who have reached age six but are under age 12.
(3) Good cause for leaving employment includes the good cause provisions found in paragraph (i)(2) of this section, and resigning from a job that is unsuitable, as specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (2) of this section. Good cause for leaving employment also includes:
(i) Discrimination by an employer based on age, race, sex, color, handicap, religious beliefs, national origin or political beliefs;
(ii) Work demands or conditions that render continued employment unreasonable, such as working without being paid on schedule;
(iii) Acceptance of employment by the individual, or enrollment by the individual in any recognized school, training program or institution of higher education on at least a half time basis, that requires the individual to leave employment;
(iv) Acceptance by any other household member of employment or enrollment at least half-time in any recognized school, training program or institution of higher education in another county or similar political subdivision that requires the household to move and thereby requires the individual to leave employment;
(v) Resignations by persons under the age of 60 which are recognized by the employer as retirement;
(vi) Employment that becomes unsuitable, as specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (2) of this section, after the acceptance of such employment;
(vii) Acceptance of a bona fide offer of employment of more than 30 hours a week or in which the weekly earnings are equivalent to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours that, because of circumstances beyond the individual's control, subsequently either does not materialize or results in employment of less than 30 hours a week or weekly earnings of less than the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours; and
(viii) Leaving a job in connection with patterns of employment in which workers frequently move from one employer to another such as migrant farm labor or construction work. There may be some circumstances where households will apply for SNAP benefits between jobs particularly in cases where work may not yet be available at the new job site. Even though employment at the new site has not actually begun, the quitting of the previous employment must be considered as with good cause if it is part of the pattern of that type of employment.
(4) Good cause includes circumstances where the State agency determines that there is not an appropriate and available opening within the E&T program to accommodate the mandatory participant. Good cause for circumstances where there is not an appropriate or available opening within the E&T program shall extend until the State agency identifies an appropriate and available E&T opening, and the State agency informs the SNAP participant. In addition, good cause for circumstances where there is not an appropriate and available opening within the E&T program shall only apply to the requirement to participate in E&T and shall not provide good cause to ABAWDs who fail to fulfill the ABAWD work requirement in accordance with § 273.24.
(5) Verification. To the extent that the information given by the household is questionable, as defined in § 273.2(f)(2), State agencies must request verification of the household's statements. The primary responsibility for providing verification, as provided in § 273.2(f)(5), rests with the household.
(j) Voluntary quit and reduction of work effort -
(1) Period for establishing voluntary quit and reduction of work effort. For the purpose of establishing that a voluntary quit without good cause or reduction in work effort without good cause occurred prior to applying for SNAP benefits, a State agency may, at its option, choose a period between 30 and 60 days before application in which to determine voluntary quit or reduction in work effort.
(2) Individual ineligibility. An individual is ineligible to participate in SNAP if, in a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 day before applying for SNAP benefits or at any time thereafter, the individual:
(i) Voluntarily and without good cause quits a job of 30 hours a week or more; or
(ii) Reduces his or her work effort voluntarily and without good cause and, after the reduction, is working less than 30 hours per week.
(3) Determining whether a voluntary quit or reduction of work effort occurred and application processing.
(i) When a household files an application for participation, or when a participating household reports the loss of a source of income or a reduction in household earnings, the State agency must determine whether any household member voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort. Benefits must not be delayed beyond the normal processing times specified in § 273.2 pending the outcome of this determination.
(ii) The voluntary quit provision applies if the employment involved 30 hours or more per week or provided weekly earnings at least equivalent to the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours; the quit occurred within a period established by the State agency between 30 to 60 days prior to the date of application or anytime thereafter; and the quit was without good cause. Changes in employment status that result from terminating a self-employment enterprise or resigning from a job at the demand of the employer will not be considered a voluntary quit for purposes of this paragraph (j). An employee of the Federal Government, or of a State or local government who participates in a strike against such government, and is dismissed from his or her job because of participation in the strike, will be considered to have voluntarily quit his or her job without good cause. If an individual quits a job, secures new employment at comparable wages or hours and is then laid off or, through no fault of his own, loses the new job, the individual must not be disqualified for the earlier quit.
(iii) The reduction of work effort provision applies if, before the reduction, the individual was employed 30 hours or more per week; the reduction occurred within a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to the date of application or anytime thereafter; and the reduction was voluntary and without good cause. If the individual reduces his or her work hours to less than 30 a week, but continues to earn weekly wages that exceed the Federal minimum wage multiplied by 30 hours, the individual remains exempt from Program work requirements, in accordance with paragraph (b)(1)(vii) of this section, and the reduction in work effort provision does not apply. Minor variations in the number of hours worked or in the weekly minimum wage equivalent wages are inevitable and must be taken into consideration when assessing a recipient's compliance with Program work rules.
(iv) In the case of an applicant household, the State agency must determine if any household member subject to SNAP work requirements voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort within a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to date of application. If the State agency learns that a household has lost a source of income or experienced a reduction in income after the date of application but before the household is certified, the State agency must determine whether a voluntary quit or reduction in work effort occurred.
(v) Upon determining that an individual voluntarily quit employment or reduced work effort, the State agency must determine if the voluntary quit or reduction of work effort was with good cause as defined in paragraph (i) of this section.
(vi) In the case of an individual who is a member of an applicant household, if the voluntary quit or reduction in work effort was without good cause, the individual will be determined ineligible to participate and will be disqualified according to the State agency's established minimum mandatory sanction schedule. The ineligible individual must be considered an ineligible household member, pursuant to § 273.1(b)(7). The disqualification is effective upon the determination of eligibility for the remaining household members. If the individual who becomes ineligible is the head of the household, as defined in § 273.1(d)(2), the State agency may choose to disqualify the entire household, in accordance with paragraph (f)(5) of this section. If the State agency chooses to disqualify the household, the State agency must provide the applicant household with a notice of denial in accordance with § 273.2(g)(3). The notice must inform the household of the proposed period of disqualification; its right to reapply at the end of the disqualification period; and of its right to a fair hearing. The household's disqualification is effective upon the issuance of the notice of denial.
(vii) In the case of an individual who is a member of a participating household, if the State agency determines that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause while participating in the program or discovers that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause during a period established by the State agency between 30 and 60 days prior to the date of application for benefits or between application and certification, the State agency must provide the individual with a notice of adverse action as specified in § 273.13 within 10 days after the determination of a quit or reduction in work effort. The notification must contain the particular act of noncompliance committed, the proposed period of ineligibility, the actions that may be taken to avoid the disqualification, and it must specify that the individual, if otherwise eligible, may resume participation at the end of the disqualification period if the State agency determines the individual to be in compliance with Program work requirements. The individual will be disqualified according to the State agency's established minimum mandatory sanction schedule. The ineligible individual must be considered an ineligible household member, pursuant to § 273.1(b)(7). The disqualification period will begin the first month following the expiration of the 10-day adverse notice period, unless the individual requests a fair hearing. If a voluntary quit or reduction in work effort occurs in the last month of a certification period, or is determined in the last 30 days of the certification period, the individual must be denied recertification for a period equal to the appropriate mandatory disqualification period, beginning with the day after the last certification period ends and continuing for the length of the disqualification, regardless of whether the individual reapplies for SNAP benefits. Each individual has a right to a fair hearing to appeal a denial or termination of benefits due to a determination that the individual voluntarily quit his or her job or reduced his or her work effort without good cause. If the participating individual's benefits are continued pending a fair hearing and the State agency determination is upheld, the disqualification period must begin the first of the month after the hearing decision is rendered.
(viii) If the individual who voluntarily quit his or her job, or who reduced his or her work effort without good cause is the head of a household, as defined in § 273.1(d), the State agency, at its option, may disqualify the entire household from SNAP participation in accordance with paragraph (f)(5) of this section.
(4) Ending a voluntary quit or a reduction in work disqualification. Except in cases of permanent disqualification, following the end of the mandatory disqualification period for voluntarily quitting a job or reducing work effort without good cause, an individual may begin participation in the program if he or she reapplies and is determined eligible by the State agency. Eligibility may be reestablished during a disqualification and the individual, if otherwise eligible, may be permitted to resume participation if the individual becomes exempt from Program work requirements under paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
(5) Application in the final month of disqualification. Except in cases of permanent disqualification, if an application for participation in the Program is filed in the final month of the mandatory disqualification period, the State agency must, in accordance with § 273.10(a)(3), use the same application for the denial of benefits in the remaining month of disqualification and certification for any subsequent month(s) if all other eligibility criteria are met.
(k) Employment initiatives program -
(1) General. In accordance with section 17(d)(1)(B) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, qualified State agencies may elect to operate an employment initiatives program, in which an eligible household can receive the cash equivalent of its SNAP benefit allotment.
(2) State agency qualification. A State agency qualifies to operate an employment initiatives program if, during the summer of 1993, at least half of its SNAP households also received cash benefits from a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act.
(3) Qualified State agencies. The State agencies of Alaska, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Wisconsin meet the qualification. These 10 State agencies may operate an employment initiatives program.
(4) Eligible households. A SNAP household in one of the 10 qualified State agencies may receive cash benefits in lieu of a SNAP benefit allotment if it meets the following requirements:
(i) The SNAP household elects to participate in an employment initiatives program;
(ii) An adult member of the household:
(A) Has worked in unsubsidized employment for the last 90 days, earning a minimum of $350 per month;
(B) Is receiving cash benefits under a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act; or
(C) Was receiving cash benefits under the State program but, while participating in the employment initiatives program, became ineligible because of earnings and continues to earn at least $350 a month from unsubsidized employment.
(5) Program Provisions.
(i) Cash benefits provided in an employment initiatives program will be considered an allotment, as defined at § 271.2 of this chapter.
(ii) An eligible household receiving cash benefits in an employment initiatives program will not receive any other SNAP benefit during the period for which cash assistance is provided.
(iii) A qualified State agency operating an employment initiatives program must increase the cash benefit to participating households to compensate for any State or local sales tax on food purchases, unless FNS determines that an increase is unnecessary because of the limited nature of items subject to the State or local sales tax.
(iv) Any increase in cash assistance to account for a State or local sales tax on food purchases must be paid by the State agency.
(6) Evaluation. After two years of operating an employment initiatives program, a State agency must evaluate the impact of providing cash assistance in lieu of a SNAP benefit allotment to participating households. The State agency must provide FNS with a written report of its evaluation findings. The State agency, with the concurrence of FNS, will determine the content of the evaluation.
(l) Work supplementation program. In accordance with section 16(b) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, States may operate work supplementation (or support) programs that allow the cash value of SNAP benefits and public assistance, such as cash assistance authorized under title IV-A of the Social Security Act or cash assistance under a program established by a State, to be provided to employers as a wage subsidy to be used for hiring and employing public assistance recipients. The goal of these programs is to promote self-sufficiency by providing public assistance recipients with work experience to help them move into unsubsidized jobs. In accordance with § 272.2(d)(1)(xiv) of this chapter, State agencies that wish to exercise their option to implement work supplementation programs must submit to FNS for approval a plan that complies with the provisions of this paragraph (l). Work supplementation programs may not be implemented without prior approval from FNS.
(1) Plan -
(i) Assurances. The plan must contain the following assurances:
(A) The individual participating in a work supplementation program must not be employed by the employer at the time the individual enters the program;
(B) The wage subsidy received under the work supplementation program must be excluded from household income and resources during the term the individual is participating in work supplementation;
(C) The household must not receive a separate SNAP allotment while participating in the work supplementation program;
(D) An individual participating in a work supplementation program is excused from meeting any other work requirements;
(E) The work supplementation program must not displace any persons currently employed who are not supplemented or supported;
(F) The wage subsidy must not be considered income or resources under any Federal, State or local laws, including but not limited to, laws relating to taxation, welfare, or public assistance programs, and the household's SNAP allotment must not be decreased due to taxation or any other reason because of its use as a wage subsidy;
(G) The earned income deduction does not apply to the subsidized portion of wages received in a work supplementation program; and
(H) All work supplemented or supported employees must receive the same benefits (sick and personal leave, health coverage, workmen's compensation, etc.) as similarly situated coworkers who are not participating in work supplementation and wages paid under a wage supplementation or support program must meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and other applicable employment laws.
(ii) Description. The plan must also describe:
(A) The procedures the State agency will use to ensure that the cash value of SNAP benefits for participating households are not subject to State or local sales taxes on food purchases. The costs of increasing household SNAP allotments to compensate for such sales taxes must be paid from State funds;
(B) State agency, employer and recipient obligations and responsibilities;
(C) The procedures the State agency will use to provide wage subsidies to employers and to ensure accountability;
(D) How public assistance recipients in the proposed work supplementation program will, within a specified period of time, be moved from supplemented or supported employment to employment that is not supplemented or supported;
(E) Whether the SNAP allotment and public assistance grant will be frozen at the time a recipient begins a subsidized job; and
(F) The procedures the State agency will use to ensure that work supplementation program participants do not incur any Federal, State, or local tax liabilities on the cash value of their SNAP benefits.
(2) Budget. In addition to the plan described in paragraph (l)(1) of this section, an operating budget for the proposed work supplementation program must be submitted to FNS.
(3) Approval. FNS will review the initial plan and any subsequent amendments. Upon approval by FNS, the State agency must incorporate the approved work supplementation program plan or subsequent amendment into its State Plan of Operation and its operating budget must be included in the State agency budget. No plan or amendment may be implemented without approval from FNS.
(4) Reporting. State agencies operating work supplementation and support programs are required to comply with all FNS reporting requirements, including reporting the amount of benefits contributed to employers as a wage subsidy on the FNS-388, State Issuance and Participation Estimates; FNS-388A, Participation and Issuance by Project Area; FNS-46, Issuance Reconciliation Report; and SF-425, using FNS-778 worksheet, Addendum Financial Status Report. State agencies are also required to report administrative costs associated with work supplementation programs on the FNS-366A, Budget Projection and SF-425 using FNS-778/FNS-778A worksheet, Financial Status Report. Special codes for work supplementation programs will be assigned for reporting purposes.
(5) Funding. FNS will pay the cash value of a participating household's SNAP benefits to a State agency with an approved work supplementation program to pay to an employer as a wage subsidy, and will also reimburse the State agency for related administrative costs, in accordance with Section 16 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.
(6) Quality control. Cases in which a household member is participating in a work supplementation program will be coded as not subject to review.
(m) Optional workfare program -
(1) General. This paragraph (m) contains the rules to be followed in operating a SNAP workfare program. In workfare, nonexempt SNAP recipients may be required to perform work in a public service capacity as a condition of eligibility to receive the benefit allotment to which their household is normally entitled. The primary goal of workfare is to improve employability and enable individuals to move into regular employment.
(2) Program administration.
(i) A SNAP workfare program may be operated as a component of a State agency's E&T program, or it may be operated independently. If the workfare program is part of an E&T program it must be included as a component in the State agency's E&T plan in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (c)(4) of this section. If it is operated independent of the E&T program, the State agency must submit a workfare plan to FNS for its approval. For the purpose of this paragraph (m), a political subdivision is any local government, including, but not limited to, any county, city, town or parish. A State agency may implement a workfare program statewide or in only some areas of the State. The areas of operation must be identified in the State agency's workfare or E&T plan.
(ii) Political subdivisions are encouraged, but not required, to submit their plans to FNS through their respective State agencies. At a minimum, however, plans must be submitted to the State agencies concurrent with their submission to FNS. Workfare plans and subsequent amendments must not be implemented prior to their approval by FNS.
(iii) When a State agency chooses to sponsor a workfare program by submitting a plan to FNS, it must incorporate the approved plan into its State Plan of Operations. When a political subdivision chooses to sponsor a workfare program by submitting a plan to FNS, the State agency is responsible as a facilitator in the administration of the program by disbursing Federal funding and meeting the requirements identified in paragraph (m)(4) of this section. When it is notified that FNS has approved a workfare plan submitted by a political subdivision in its State, the State agency must append that political subdivision's workfare plan to its own State Plan of Operations.
(iv) The operating agency is the administrative organization identified in the workfare plan as being responsible for establishing job sites, assigning eligible recipients to the job sites, and meeting the requirements of this paragraph (m). The operating agency may be any public or private, nonprofit organization. The State agency or political subdivision that submitted the workfare plan is responsible for monitoring the operating agency's compliance with the requirements of this paragraph (m) or of the workfare plan. The Department may suspend or terminate some or all workfare program funding, or withdraw approval of the workfare program from the State agency or political subdivision that submitted the workfare plan upon finding that that State agency or political subdivision, or their respective operating agencies, have failed to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (m) or of the workfare plan.
(v) State agencies or other political subdivisions must describe in detail in the plan how the political subdivision, working with the State agency and any other cooperating agencies that may be involved in the program, will fulfill the provisions of this paragraph (m). The plan will be a one-time submittal, with amendments submitted as needed to cover any changes in the workfare program as they occur.
(vi) State agencies or political subdivisions submitting a workfare plan must submit with the plan an operating budget covering the period from the initiation of the workfare program's implementation schedule to the close of the Federal fiscal year. In addition, an estimate of the cost for one full year of operation must be submitted together with the workfare plan. For subsequent fiscal years, the workfare program budget must be included in the State agency's budget.
(vii) If workfare plans are submitted by more than one political subdivision, each representing the same population (such as a city within a county), the Department will determine which political subdivision will have its plan approved. Under no circumstances will a SNAP recipient be subject to more than one SNAP workfare program. If a political subdivision chooses to operate a workfare program and represents a population which is already, at least in part, subject to a SNAP workfare program administered by another political subdivision, it must establish in its workfare plan how SNAP recipients will not be subject to more than one SNAP workfare program.
(3) Operating agency responsibilities.
(i) General. The operating agency, as designated by the State agency or other political subdivision that submits a plan, is responsible for establishing and monitoring job sites, interviewing and assessing eligible recipients, assigning eligible recipients to appropriate job sites, monitoring participant compliance, making initial determinations of good cause for household noncompliance, and otherwise meeting the requirements of this paragraph (m).
(ii) Establishment of job sites. Workfare job slots may only be located in public or private nonprofit agencies. Contractual agreements must be established between the operating agency and organizations providing jobs that include, but are not limited to, designation of the slots available and designation of responsibility for provision of benefits, if any are required, to the workfare participant.
(iii) Notifying State agency of noncompliance. The operating agency must notify the State agency of noncompliance by an individual with a workfare obligation when it determines that the individual did not have good cause for the noncompliance. This notification must occur within five days of such a determination so that the State agency can make a final determination as provided in paragraph (m)(4)(iv) of this section.
(A) State agencies must establish and use notices to notify the operating agency of workfare-eligible households. The notice must include the case name, case number, names of workfare-eligible household members, address of the household, certification period, and indication of any part-time work. If the State agency is calculating the hours of obligation, it must also include this in the notice. If the operating agency is computing the hours to be worked, include the monthly allotment amount.
(B) Operating agencies must establish and use notices to notify the workfare participant of where and when the participant is to report, to whom the participant is to report, a brief description of duties for the particular placement, and the number of hours to be worked.
(C) Operating agencies must establish and use notices to notify the State agency of failure by a household to meet its workfare obligation.
(v) Recordkeeping requirements.
(A) Files that record activity by workfare participants must be maintained. At a minimum, these records must contain job sites, hours assigned, and hours completed.
(B) Program records must be maintained, for audit and review purposes, for a period of 3 years from the month of origin of each record. Fiscal records and accountable documents must be retained for 3 years from the date of fiscal or administrative closure of the workfare program. Fiscal closure, as used in this paragraph (m), means that workfare program obligations for or against the Federal government have been liquidated. Administrative closure, as used in this paragraph (m), means that the operating agency or Federal government has determined and documented that no further action to liquidate the workfare program obligation is appropriate. Fiscal records and accountable records must be kept in a manner that will permit verification of direct monthly reimbursements to recipients, in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(iii) of this section.
(vi) Reporting requirements. The operating agency is responsible for providing information needed by the State agency to fulfill the reporting requirements contained in paragraph (m)(4)(v) of this section.
(vii) Disclosure. The provisions of § 272.1(c) of this chapter restricting the use and disclosure of information obtained from SNAP households is applicable to the administration of the workfare program.
(4) State agency responsibilities.
(i) If a political subdivision chooses to operate a workfare program, the State agency must cooperate with the political subdivision in developing a plan.
(ii) The State agency must determine at certification or recertification which household members are eligible for the workfare program and inform the household representative of the nature of the program and of the penalties for noncompliance. If the State agency is not the operating agency, each member of a household who is subject to workfare under paragraph (m)(5)(i) of this section must be referred to the organization which is the operating agency. The information identified in paragraph (m)(3)(iv)(A) of this section must be forwarded to the operating agency within 5 days after the date of household certification. Computation of hours to be worked may be delegated to the operating agency.
(iii) The State agency must inform the household and the operating agency of the effect of any changes in a household's circumstances on the household's workfare obligation. This includes changes in benefit levels or workfare eligibility.
(iv) Upon notification by the operating agency that a participant has failed to comply with the workfare requirement without good cause, the State agency must make a final determination as to whether or not the failure occurred and whether there was good cause for the failure. If the State agency determines that the participant did not have good cause for noncompliance, a sanction must be processed as provided in paragraphs (f)(1)(i) and (f)(1)(ii) of this section. The State agency must immediately inform the operating agency of the months during which the sanction will apply.
(v) The State agency must submit quarterly reports to FNS within 45 days of the end of each quarter identifying for that quarter for that State:
(A) The number of households with workfare-eligible recipients referred to the operating agency. A household will be counted each time it is referred to the operating agency;
(B) The number of households assigned to jobs each month by the operating agency;
(C) The number of individuals assigned to jobs each month by the operating agency;
(D) The total number of hours worked by participants; and
(E) The number of individuals against which sanctions were applied. An individual being sanctioned over two quarters should only be reported as sanctioned for the earlier quarter.
(vi) The State agency may, at its option, assume responsibility for monitoring all workfare programs in its State to assure that there is compliance with this section and with the plan submitted and approved by FNS. Should the State agency assume this responsibility, it would act as agent for FNS, which is ultimately responsible for ensuring such compliance. Should the State agency determine that noncompliance exists, it may withhold funding until compliance is achieved or FNS directs otherwise.
(5) Household responsibilities.
(i) Participation requirement. Participation in workfare, if assigned by the State agency, is a SNAP work requirement for all nonexempt household members, as provided in paragraph (a) of this section. In addition:
(A) Those recipients exempt from SNAP work requirements because they are subject to and complying with any work requirement under title IV of the Social Security Act are subject to workfare if they are currently involved less than 20 hours a week in title IV work activities. Those recipients involved 20 hours a week or more may be subject to workfare at the option of the political subdivision; and
(B) Those recipients exempt from SNAP work requirements because they have applied for or are receiving unemployment compensation are subject to workfare.
(ii) Household obligation. The maximum total number of hours of work required of a household each month is determined by dividing the household's benefit allotment by the Federal or State minimum wage, whichever is higher. Fractions of hours of obligation may be rounded down. The household's hours of obligation for any given month may not be carried over into another month.
(6) Other program requirements.
(i) Conditions of employment.
(A) A participant may be required to work a maximum of 30 hours per week. This maximum must take into account hours worked in any other compensated capacity (including hours of participation in a title IV work program) by the participant on a regular or predictable part-time basis. With the participant's consent, the hours to be worked may be scheduled in such a manner that more than 30 hours are worked in one week, as long as the total for that month does not exceed the weekly average of 30 hours.
(B) No participant will be required to work more than eight hours on any given day without his or her consent.
(C) No participant will be required to accept an offer of workfare employment if it fails to meet the criteria established in paragraphs (h)(1)(iii), (h)(1)(iv), (h)(2)(i), (h)(2)(ii), (h)(2)(iv), and (h)(2)(v) of this section.
(D) If the workfare participant is unable to report for job scheduling, to appear for scheduled workfare employment, or to complete the entire workfare obligation due to compliance with Unemployment Insurance requirements; other SNAP work requirements established in paragraph (a)(1) of this section; or the job search requirements established in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section, that inability must not be considered a refusal to accept workfare employment. If the workfare participant informs the operating agency of the time conflict, the operating agency must, if possible, reschedule the missed activity. If the rescheduling cannot be completed before the end of the month, that must not be considered as cause for disqualification.
(E) The operating agency must assure that all persons employed in workfare jobs receive job-related benefits at the same levels and to the same extent as similar non-workfare employees. These are benefits related to the actual work being performed, such as workers' compensation, and not to the employment by a particular agency, such as health benefits. Of those benefits required to be offered, any elective benefit that requires a cash contribution by the participant will be optional at the discretion of the participant.
(F) The operating agency must assure that all workfare participants experience the same working conditions that are provided to non-workfare employees similarly employed.
(G) The provisions of section 2(a)(3) of the Service Contract Act of 1965 (Public Law 89-286), relating to health and safety conditions, apply to the workfare program.
(H) Operating agencies must not place a workfare participant in a work position that has the effect of replacing or preventing the employment of an individual not participating in the workfare program. Vacancies due to hiring freezes, terminations, or lay-offs must not be filled by workfare participants unless it can be demonstrated that the vacancies are a result of insufficient funds to sustain former staff levels.
(I) Workfare jobs must not, in any way, infringe upon the promotional opportunities that would otherwise be available to regular employees.
(J) Workfare jobs must not be related in any way to political or partisan activities.
(K) The cost of workers' compensation or comparable protection provided to workfare participants by the State agency, political subdivision, or operating agency is a matchable cost under paragraph (m)(7) of this section. However, whether or not this coverage is provided, in no case is the Federal government the employer in these workfare programs (unless a Federal agency is the job site). The Department does not assume liability for any injury to or death of a workfare participant while on the job.
(L) The nondiscrimination requirement provided in § 272.6(a) of this chapter applies to all agencies involved in the workfare program.
(ii) Job search period. The operating agency may establish a job search period of up to 30 days following certification prior to making a workfare assignment during which the potential participant is expected to look for a job. This period may only be established at household certification, not at recertification. The potential participant would not be subject to any job search requirements beyond those required under this section during this time.
(iii) Participant reimbursement. The operating agency must reimburse participants for transportation and other costs that are reasonably necessary and directly related to participation in the program. These other costs may include the cost of child care, or the cost of personal safety items or equipment required for performance of work if these items are also purchased by regular employees. These other costs may not include the cost of meals away from home. No participant cost reimbursed under a workfare program operated under Title IV of the Social Security Act or any other workfare program may be reimbursed under the SNAP workfare program. Only reimbursement of participant costs up to but not in excess of $25 per month for any participant will be subject to Federal cost sharing as provided in paragraph (m)(7) of this section. Reimbursed child care costs may not be claimed as expenses and used in calculating the child care deduction for determining household benefits. In accordance with paragraph (m)(4)(i) of this section, a State agency may decide what its reimbursement policy shall be.
(iv) Failure to comply. When a workfare participant is determined by the State agency to have failed or refused without good cause to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (m), the provisions of paragraph (f) of this section will apply.
(v) Benefit overissuances. If a benefit overissuance is discovered for a month or months in which a participant has already performed a workfare or work component requirement, the State agency must apply the claim recovery procedures as follows:
(A) If the person who performed the work is still subject to a work obligation, the State must determine how may extra hours were worked because of the improper benefit. The participant should be credited those extra hours toward future work obligations; and
(B) If a workfare or work component requirement does not continue, the State agency must determine whether the overissuance was the result of an intentional program violation, an inadvertent household error, or a State agency error. For an intentional program violation a claim should be established for the entire amount of the overissuance. If the overissuance was caused by an inadvertent household error or State agency error, the State agency must determine whether the number of hours worked in workfare are more than the number which could have been assigned had the proper benefit level been used in calculating the number of hours to work. A claim must be established for the amount of the overissuance not “worked off,” if any. If the hours worked equal the amount of hours calculated by dividing the overissuance by the minimum wage, no claim will be established. No credit for future work requirements will be given.
(7) Federal financial participation -
(i) Administrative costs. Fifty percent of all administrative costs incurred by State agencies or political subdivisions in operating a workfare program will be funded by the Federal government. Such costs include those related to recipient participation in workfare, up to $25 per month for any participant, as indicated in paragraph (m)(6)(iii) of this section. Such costs do not include the costs of equipment, capital expenditures, tools or materials used in connection with the work performed by workfare participants, the costs of supervising workfare participants, the costs of reimbursing participants for meals away from home, or reimbursed expenses in excess of $25 per month for any participant. State agencies must not use any portion of their annual 100 percent Federal E&T allocations to fund the administration of optional workfare programs under section 20 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and this paragraph (m).
(ii) Funding mechanism. The State agencies have responsibility for disbursing Federal funds used for the workfare program through the State agencies' Letters of Credit. The State agency must also assure that records are being maintained which support the financial claims being made to FNS. This will be for all programs, regardless of who submits the plan. Mechanisms for funding local political subdivisions which have submitted plans must be established by the State agencies.
(iii) Fiscal recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Workfare-related costs must be identified by the State agency on the Financial Status Report (Form SF-269) as a separate column. All financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, negotiated contracts, and all other records pertinent to workfare program funds must be maintained in accordance with § 277.12 of this chapter.
(iv) Sharing workfare savings -
(A) Entitlement. A political subdivision is entitled to share in the benefit reductions that occur when a workfare participant begins employment while participating in workfare for the first time, or within thirty days of ending the first participation in workfare.
(1) To begin employment means to appear at the place of employment and to begin working.
(2) First participation in workfare means performing work for the first time in a particular workfare program. The only break in participation that does not end the first participation will be due to the participant's taking a job which does not affect the household's allotment by an entire month's wages and which is followed by a return to workfare.
(B) Calculating the benefit reductions. The political subdivision will calculate benefit reductions from each workfare participant's employment as follows.
(1) Unless the political subdivision knows otherwise, it will presume that the benefit reduction equals the difference between the last allotment issued before the participant began the new employment and the first allotment that reflects a full month's wages, earned income deduction, and dependent care deduction attributable to the new job.
(2) If the political subdivision knows of other changes besides the new job that affect the household's allotment after the new job began, the political subdivision will obtain the first allotment affected by an entire month's wages from the new job. The political subdivision will then recalculate the allotment to account for the wages, earned income deduction, and dependent care deduction attributable to the new job. In recalculating the allotment the political subdivision will also replace any benefits from a State program funded under title IV-A of the Social Security Act received after the new job with benefits received in the last month before the new job began. The difference between the first allotment that accounts for the new job and the recalculated allotment will be the benefit reduction.
(3) The political subdivision's share of the benefit reduction is three times this difference, divided by two.
(4) If, during these procedures, an error is discovered in the last allotment issued before the new employment began, that allotment must be corrected before the savings are calculated.
(C) Accounting. The reimbursement from workfare will be reported and paid as follows:
(1) The political subdivision will report its enhanced reimbursement to the State agency in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(iii) of this section.
(2) The Food and Nutrition Service will reimburse the political subdivision in accordance with paragraph (m)(7)(ii) of this section.
(3) The political subdivision will, upon request, make available for review sufficient documentation to justify the amount of the enhanced reimbursement.
(4) The Food and Nutrition Service will reimburse only the political subdivision's reimbursed administrative costs in the fiscal year in which the workfare participant began new employment and which are acceptable according to paragraph (m)(7)(i) of this section.
(8) Voluntary workfare program. State agencies and political subdivisions may operate workfare programs whereby participation by SNAP recipients is voluntary. In such a program, the penalties for failure to comply, as provided in paragraph (f) of this section, will not apply for noncompliance. The amount of hours to be worked will be negotiated between the household and the operating agency, though not to exceed the limits provided under paragraph (m)(5)(ii) of this section. In addition, all protections provided under paragraph (m)(6)(i) of this section shall continue to apply. Those State agencies and political subdivisions choosing to operate such a program shall indicate in their workfare plan how their staffing will adapt to anticipated and unanticipated levels of participation. The Department will not approve plans which do not show that the benefits of the workfare program, in terms of hours worked by participants and reduced SNAP allotments due to successful job attainment, are expected to exceed the costs of such a program. In addition, if the Department finds that an approved voluntary program does not meet this criterion, the Department reserves the right to withdraw approval.
(9) Comparable workfare programs. In accordance with section 6(o)(2)(C) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, State agencies and political subdivisions may establish programs comparable to workfare under this paragraph (m) for the purpose of providing ABAWDs subject to the time limits specified at § 273.24 a means of fulfilling the work requirements in order to remain eligible for SNAP benefits. While comparable to workfare in that they require the participant to work for his or her household's SNAP allotment, these programs may or may not conform to other workfare requirements. State agencies or political subdivisions desiring to operate a comparable workfare program must meet the following conditions:
(i) The maximum number of hours worked weekly in a comparable workfare activity, combined with any other hours worked during the week by a participant for compensation (in cash or in kind) in any other capacity, must not exceed 30;
(ii) Participants must not receive a fourth month of SNAP benefits (the first month for which they would not be eligible under the time limit) without having secured a workfare position or without having met their workfare obligation. Participation must be verified timely to prevent issuance of a month's benefits for which the required work obligation is not met;
(iii) The State agency or political subdivision must maintain records to support the issuance of benefits to comparable workfare participants beyond the third month of eligibility; and
(iv) The State agency or political subdivision must provide a description of its program, including a methodology for ensuring compliance with (m)(9)(ii) of this section. The description should be submitted to the appropriate Regional office, with copies forwarded to SNAP National office.
(n) Workforce partnerships. Workforce partnerships must meet the following requirements.
(1) Workforce partnerships are programs operated by:
(i) A private employer, an organization representing private employers, or a nonprofit organization providing services relating to workforce development; or
(ii) An entity identified as an eligible provider of training services under section 122(d) of WIOA (29 U.S.C. 3152(d)).
(2) Workforce partnerships may include multi-State programs.
(3) Workforce partnerships must be in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq), as applicable.
(4) Certification of workforce partnerships. All workforce partnerships must be certified by the Secretary or by the State agency to the Secretary to indicate all of the following. The workforce partnership must:
(i) Assist SNAP households in gaining high-quality, work-relevant skills, training, work, or experience that will increase the ability of the participants to obtain regular employment;
(ii) Provide participants with not less than 20 hours per week, averaged monthly of training, work, or experience; for the purposes of this provision, 20 hours a week averaged monthly means 80 hours a month;
(iii) Not use any funds authorized to be appropriated under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008;
(iv) Provide sufficient information to the State agency, on request, to determine whether members of SNAP households who are subject to the work requirement in 7 CFR 273.7(a), the ABAWD work requirements in 7 CFR 273.24, or both are fulfilling the work requirement through the workforce partnership;
(v) Be willing to serve as a reference for participants who are members of SNAP households for future employment or work-related programs.
(5) In certifying that a workforce partnership meets the criteria in paragraphs (n)(4)(i) and (ii) of this section to be certified as a workforce partnership, the Secretary or the State agency shall require that the program submit to the Secretary or the State agency sufficient information that describes both:
(i) The services and activities of the program that would provide participants with not less than 20 hours per week of training, work, or experience; and
(ii) How the workforce partnership would provide services and activities described in paragraph (n)(5)(i) of this section that would directly enhance the employability or job readiness of the participant.
(6) Application to employment and training.
(i) Workforce partnerships may not use any funds authorized to be appropriated by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008.
(ii) If a member of a SNAP household is required to participate in an employment and training program in accordance with paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, the State shall consider an individual participating in a workforce partnership certified in accordance with paragraph (n)(4) of this section to be in compliance with the employment and training requirements. The State agency cannot disqualify an individual for no longer participating in a workforce partnership. When a State agency learns that an individual is no longer participating in a workforce partnership, and the individual had been subject to mandatory E&T in accordance with paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, the State agency must re-screen the individual to determine if the individual qualifies for an exemption from the work requirements in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section, and re-screen the individual to determine if the individual meets State criteria for referral to an E&T program or component in accordance with paragraph (c)(2) of this section. After this re-screening, if it is appropriate to require the individual to participate in an E&T program, the State agency may refer the individual to an E&T program or workforce partnership, as applicable.
(7) Supplement, Not Supplant. A state agency may use a workforce partnership to supplement, not to supplant, the employment and training program of the State agency.
(8) Application to work programs. Workforce partnerships certified in accordance with paragraph (n)(4) of this section are included in the definition of a work program under 7 CFR 273.24(a)(3) for the purposes of fulfilling the ABAWD work requirement.
(9) The State agency shall not require any member of a household participating in SNAP to participate in a workforce partnership.
(10) List of workforce partnerships. A State agency shall maintain a list of workforce partnerships certified in accordance with paragraph (n)(4) of this section. A State agency must also inform any SNAP participant whom the State agency has determined is likely to benefit from participation in a workforce partnership of the availability of the workforce partnership, and provide the participant with all available pertinent information regarding the workforce partnership to enable the participant to make an informed choice about participation. The information must include, if available: contact information for the workforce partnership; the types of activities the participant would be engaged in through the workforce partnership, screening criteria used by the workforce partnership to select individuals, the location of the workforce partnership, the work schedule or schedules, any special skills required to participate, and wage and benefit information, if applicable.
(11) Participation in a workforce partnership shall not replace the employment or training of an individual not participating in a workforce partnership.
(12) A workforce partnership may select individuals for participation in the workforce partnership who may or may not meet the criteria for the general work requirement at 7 CFR 273.7(a), including participation in E&T, or the ABAWD work requirement at 7 CFR 273.24(a)(1).
(13) Reporting. Workforce partnership reporting requirements to the State agency are limited to the following:
(i) On notification that an individual participating in the workforce partnership is receiving SNAP benefits, notifying the State agency that the individual is participating in a workforce partnership;
(ii) Identifying participants who have completed or are no longer participating in the workforce partnership;
(iii) Identifying changes to the workforce partnership that result in the workforce partnership no longer meeting the certification requirements in accordance with paragraph (n)(4) of this section; and
(iv) Providing sufficient information, on request by the State agency, for the State agency to verify that a participant is fulfilling the applicable work requirements in paragraph (a) of this section or 7 CFR 273.24.