Okla. Admin. Code § 340:10-2-4 - [Effective until9/15/2021] [Effective9/14/2021]Employment
(a) Applicability. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Work activities are designed to help the participant obtain employment to achieve economic self-sufficiency, per Sections 261.2, 261.10, and 261.30 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations ( 45 C.F.R. §§ 261.2, 261.10, and 261.30 ). Work allows participants to enhance their self-esteem and to become more independent. Every effort is made to assist participants in securing jobs that provide financial security and opportunities for advancement. The appropriate employment criteria for subsidized and unsubsidized employment are included in (1) through (5) of this subsection.
(1) Appropriate employment may be temporary, permanent, full-time, part-time, or seasonal work, as long as the daily and weekly hours of employment do not exceed those customary to the occupation.
(2) The wage must meet or exceed the federal or state minimum wage laws or the prevailing rate for similar employment, whichever is applicable. The state law applies when federal law does not cover the job.
(3) A participant is not required to accept employment when the position offered is vacant due to a strike, lockout, or other bona fide labor dispute.
(4) A participant is not required to work for an employer when it is contrary to the conditions of membership in the union governing that occupation. Employment not governed by the rules of the union to which the participant belongs may be appropriate.
(5) A participant is not required to accept employment that results in the net loss of income.
(b) Unsubsidized employment. The State Work Incentive Program and any employment for which the employer does not receive reimbursement for any portion of the wages paid are examples of unsubsidized employment.
(1) State Work Incentive Program. The State Work Incentive Program is designed to assist in employing TANF participants into entry level positions in all branches of state government. Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), in cooperation with other state agencies and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Human Capital Management, coordinates job placements for TANF participants referred to the program on Form 08TW023E, State Work Incentive Referral.
(A) Employment of eligible participants may be considered for positions of unclassified status for a two-year period in a full-time or part-time capacity. These positions are not included within any limitation on full-time equivalent employee positions for any agency.
(B) Participants hired under this program are eligible for leave and other benefits available to other state employees, subject to other eligibility requirements, and may be reassigned or promoted while in the program.
(C) Participants hired are exempt from probationary hiring procedures. They may be considered for conversion to permanent classified status after two years of continuous program participation.
(D) Requirements for placing employees in permanent status include:
(i) completing satisfactory performance ratings conducted during employment; and
(ii) having possession of the minimum requirements stated in the job specifications.
(2) Other unsubsidized employment. Unsubsidized employment includes any employment in which a participant is hired by a private or public employer and there is no reimbursement of any portion of the wages paid to the recipient.
(c) Subsidized employment. The Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) and on-the-job training (OJT) are examples of subsidized employment. The employment criteria in (a) of this Section apply.
(1) SEP. SEP is a subsidized employment program through which DHS reimburses employers hiring TANF participants into full-time employment for a portion of their wages for up to four months. Public agencies, nonprofit private agencies, and private employers are eligible to participate. When a state agency expresses an interest in participating in the program, DHS staff informs agency personnel that the subsidized employment reimbursement must not be used by the state agency to claim matching federal funds. When, for any reason in any given month, a SEP participant is paid less than the amount of his or her cash assistance at the time of entry into the program, the SEP participant receives a supplemental TANF benefit. SEP participants are entitled to all benefits the employer makes available to other employees. Participants are assigned based on their employability plan and the availability of appropriate and willing employers.
(A) Participant requirements. TANF participants are:
(i) included in the cash assistance unit; and
(ii) available for immediate employment.
(B) Position requirements. Position requirements must include:
(i) full-time employment for a minimum of 35 hours per week;
(iii) the same wages, benefits, and working conditions as provided to other employees performing a substantially equivalent job;
(iv) employer agreement to conform to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and fair employment practices, such as nondiscriminastion regarding age, race, sex, color, national origin, disability, and in some cases religion or political belief; and
(v) employer assurance the position does not:
(I) displace the employer's current employees, including any involved in a strike or lockout;
(II) involve commission sales when at least $10 per hour is not guaranteed; or
(III) is not for casual, intermittent, or seasonal labor.
(C) Recruitment of employers. Designated county staff or the career development specialist (CDS) recruits employers interested in SEP. The employer is asked to notify designated county staff or the CDS of potential positions with job specifications and qualifications in order to match the employer with an appropriate TANF participant referral. Designated county staff or the CDS give Form 08TW011E, Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) Referral to the TANF participant to take to the employer specified on the form.
(i) When explaining SEP to employers, designated county staff or the CDS emphasizes that employers are expected to retain the SEP participant in full-time employment unless there is good cause for the dismissal. Employers who fail to continue the successful SEP participant's employment without good cause are not granted subsequent contracts. Good cause reasons for dismissal occur when:
(I) there is a lay-off due to economic reasons that results in a reduction-in-force;
(II) the employee is frequently absent from work or engages in disruptive or inappropriate behavior; or
(III) the employee is unable to perform at an acceptable skill level.
(ii) Before designated county staff or the CDS writes new or additional contracts with an employer, SEP employees or other employees in lay-off status must be recalled.
(iii) Designated county staff or the CDS has the responsibility for ensuring the employer is complying with the contract.
(D) SEP placements. Designated county staff or the CDS arranges interviews between participants and potential employers. SEP participants may begin employment any time during the month. The employer is informed that reimbursement begins after the participant completes the first 30-calendar days of employment.
(i) Following the employer's agreement to participate and selection of a TANF participant, designated county staff or the CDS negotiates the contract, Form 08TW017E, Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) Contract, with the employer. Negotiation includes the beginning date of employment, the employee's salary, and the employee's planned number of employment hours per week.
(ii) Upon receipt of the contract, designated county staff or the CDS reviews it for completeness and, when approved, signs and dates the contract. Designated county staff or the CDS delivers the employer's copy of the contract and Form 08TW018E, Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) Invoice, for requesting reimbursement to the employer.
(iii) Designated county staff or the CDS contacts the participant to complete and sign Form 08TW006E, Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Participant Agreement.
(iv) When a contract is not approved, a letter is mailed by the designated county staff or the CDS to the employer explaining the reason for the disapproval. Designated county staff or the CDS notifies the participant by phone or letter that the contract was not approved.
(E) Program procedures. The procedures for programs listed in (i) through (iv) of this subpara-graph are used.
(i) TANF cash assistance.Under SEP, eligibility for TANF cash assistance is frozen. During the participation period, the TANF assistance unit cannot be determined ineligible.
(ii) Medical benefits. SEP participants whose TANF cash assistance is frozen, continue to be eligible for SoonerCare (Medicaid) benefits unless found ineligible for a reason other than earned income.
(iii) Food benefits. SEP participants whose TANF cash assistance is frozen and who are receiving Simplified Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SSNAP) benefits per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:50-11-20 continue to receive SSNAP benefits without consideration of the SEP income during the participation period as long as household composition remains the same. Once the SEP participation period ends and the TANF benefit closes, the household may be eligible for transitional food benefits per OAC 340:50-11-27.
(iv) Child care. During the SEP participation period while the TANF cash assistance is frozen, the child remains predetermined eligible for child care subsidy benefits with a zero family share copayment per OAC 340:40-7-1. Once the SEP participation period ends and the TANF benefit closes, the worker determines if the participant's child care renewal is due per OAC 340:40-9-1. When the child care renewal is due, the worker considers the participant's earnings and computes the family share copayment per DHS Appendix C-4, Child Care Eligibility/Copayment Chart. When the child care renewal is not due, the participant's family share copayment does not increase until the renewal is due per OAC 340:40-5-1(9).
(F) Payment of employers. Employers are eligible for:
(i) one hundred percent reimbursement of the employee's gross wages, capped at a maximum of 40 hours per week at $12 per hour, for the first 30-calendar days of employment.
(I) Employers are eligible to apply for reimbursement 30-calendar days following the date of hire.
(II) Employers file for reimbursement by submitting Form 08TW018E, with proof of the participant's earnings for the last six months attached, directly to Adult and Family Services (AFS) TANF staff.
(III) When a business changes ownership, the SEP contract transfers with the business. When change of ownership occurs mid-month, the original owner maintains the right to file a claim for reimbursement for the transfer month. The new owner may claim for subsidized wages for the remaining months of the original SEP agreement;
(ii) fifty percent reimbursement of the employee's gross wages, for the following three months, provided the employee remains employed a minimum of 35 hours per week and earning at least $10 per hour. The reimbursement is capped at a maximum of 40 hours per week at $12 per hour; and
(iii) a bonus equal to 100 percent of the unsub-sidized portion of wages up to 40 hours per week for the four month subsidized period, provided the SEP employee:
(I) remains employed a minimum of 35 hours per week;
(II) earns a minimum of $10 per hour; and
(III) is retained for a minimum period of six months after the subsidized agreement ends.
(G) Supplemental payments to SEP participants. AFS automatically issues supplemental payments for months in which income shown on Form 08TW018E is less than the amount of the SEP participant's cash assistance prior to entering the program.
(H) SEP contract period completions. At the end of the fourth month of subsidized employment, the worker reviews the participant's continued TANF eligibility.
(I) SEP contract terminations. When the SEP placement ends during the four months of subsidized employment, the worker reviews the participant's continued TANF eligibility.
(2) OJT. OJT is subsidized employment in which a private or public employer hires the participant and, while engaged in productive work, receives training that provides knowledge or skills essential to the full performance of the job. During the OJT period, the employer receives reimbursement for a portion of the wages paid to the employee.
(A) Participants who successfully complete the Work Experience Program, have a recent history of employment, or complete a job readiness activity are the primary candidates for OJT referral.
(B) Income from OJT is considered as any other earned income.
(C) The worker explains the availability of transitional child care per OAC 340:40-7-1 and continued medical benefits per OAC 340:10-3-75 to the participant at the time of entry into OJT.
(d) Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The WOTC law permits for-profit employers to take a federal income tax credit when workers from certain target groups are hired. Workers in these target groups have faced significant barriers to employment. The WOTC is equal to between 25 percent and 40 percent of the first year wages, up to $9000, depending on the number of hours the employee works, and the applicable target group for the person. The main objective of this program is to enable targeted employees to gradually move from economic dependency into self-sufficiency as he or she earns a steady income and become contributing taxpayers, while the participating employers are compensated by reducing their federal income tax liability.
(1) WOTC is available to employers for workers hired from targeted groups. The targeted groups are:
(A) TANF recipients who received assistance for nine months out of the last 18 months;
(B) qualified veterans. Qualified veterans are persons who received food benefits for at least three consecutive months within the last 15 months preceding the hire date;
(C) qualified ex-felons. Qualified ex-felons are persons who were convicted of a felony and within the last year were either convicted or released from prison;
(D) designated community residents. Designated community residents are persons, who are 18 years of age, but not 40 years of age, on the hiring date and whose principal place of residence is within an Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Community, or a Rural Renewal County, and for those who began work after May 25, 2007. This High-Risk Youth group was renamed "Designated Community Resident" and expanded to include residents of Rural Renewal Counties;
(E) vocational rehabilitation recipients. Vocational rehabilitation recipients are persons with a disability who received or are receiving vocational rehabilitation from a rehabilitation agency approved by the state or Department of Veterans Affairs;
(F) qualified summer youth employees. Qualified summer youth employees are persons at least 16 years of age, but not 18 years of age, on the hiring date and have a principal residence in an Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Community, or Rural Renewal County hired between May 1 and September 15;
(G) qualified food benefit recipients. Qualified food benefit recipients are persons, who are at least 18 years of age, but not 40 years of age, who are:
(i) members of a household that received food benefits for the last six-consecutive months prior to their hiring date; or
(ii) able-bodied adults without dependents no longer eligible for benefits who reside with a household currently receiving food benefits or a household that received food benefits for at least three months out of the last five consecutive months, prior to the hiring date;
(H) qualified recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Qualified recipients of SSI are persons who received SSI for any month during the 60-calen-dar days before the hire date;
(I) long-term TANF recipients. Long-term TANF recipients are persons certified by a designated local agency as members of families who received TANF payments for:
(i) at least 18 consecutive months ending on the hiring date;
(ii) a total of at least 18 months, whether consecutive or not, after August 5, 1997, when hired within two years after the date the 18 month total is reached;
(J) Hurricane Katrina employees. Hurricane Kat-rina employees do not require certification;
(K) unemployed veterans. Unemployed veterans are persons hired after 2008, and before 2011, who:
(i) were discharged or released from active duty in the United States (U.S.) Armed Forces at any time during the five-year period ending on the hiring date; and
(ii) received unemployment compensation under federal or state law for at least four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date; and
(L) disconnected youth. Disconnected youth are persons certified as:
(i) having attained 16 years of age, but not 25 years of age, on the hiring date;
(ii) not regularly attending any secondary, technical, or post-secondary school during the six month period preceding the hiring date;
(iii) not regularly employed during the six month period preceding the hiring date; and
(iv) not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient number of basic skills.
(2) Through an agreement with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, DHS issues WOTC conditional certification forms for DHS recipients.
(3) U.S. Department of Labor Form ETA-9062, Conditional Certification Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and a letter from the worker stating the number of months the participant received DHS benefits is given to the participant to present to the employer, on or before, the first day of employment. An explanation is given to the participant about the purpose of the form and how the tax credit may help the participant get a job.
(e) Work Experience Program (WEP). The purpose of WEP is to provide job skills and work enhancement to TANF participants enabling them to move toward self-sufficiency and obtain unsubsidized employment following completion of the placement.
(1) Benefits. Program benefits for participants include an opportunity to establish a work history and earn a recommendation from an employer. Participants also learn to balance the demands of home and work, gain confidence by performing in a job setting, enhance current job skills, learn marketable skills on-the-job, and determine interest and aptitude for a particular type of work by doing the job.
(2) WEP assignments. WEP assignments are approved for an initial period of 90- calendar days.
(A) No salary is paid.
(B) With respect to injuries incurred during WEP working hours, federal law requires medical coverage be offered under state workers' compensation law or by DHS. Oklahoma workers' compensation law does not cover WEP participants. Medical coverage is provided by the SoonerCare (Medicaid) Program.
(3) WEP referrals. Participants are referred to WEP slots based on the employability plan. The worker coordinates assignment to a WEP position with the participant. Based on the employability plan, the worker:
(A) determines which facility best meets the participant's needs;
(B) arranges an interview between the facility and the participant; and
(C) notifies the participant of the place, time, and interviewer's name.
(4) WEP facilities. Facilities selected for WEP placements must be capable of providing employment and have an apparent intent to hire, or be able to provide quality job skills enhancement. WEP facilities are solicited by designated county staff, the CDS, or a contracted entity who agreed to assist with job development and placement, including WEP. Local job market conditions, opportunities for employment following completion of WEP participation, as well as the ability of the facility to provide the necessary supervision and skills enhancement are criteria used when soliciting a facility.
(A) WEP slots are developed to meet participant employment needs as determined by the employability plan. When a facility agrees to participate in WEP, the facility representative is requested to provide:
(i) a written description of the type of activities in which the participant will be involved;
(ii) the number of participants the facility can accept;
(iii) the hours of participation; and
(iv) any special requirements, such as uniforms or special equipment.
(B) There are two types of WEP facilities, WEP Non-profit (WEP-NP) and WEP-For-Profit (WEP-FP).
(i) WEP-NP placement is approved for public and private non-profit organizations or businesses. When a participant requires additional skills enhancement, the worker may approve a 60-calendar day extension. Extensions are not granted when the primary purpose is to provide additional help to the facility. The criteria listed in (I) through (VII) of this unit are used as a guide in determining the appropriateness of requesting an extension beyond the initial three-month period.
(I) The participant needs additional time to acquire skills to meet minimum hiring requirements.
(II) The participant demonstrates a willingness to learn, but needs additional time to develop new skills, to compete in the labor market.
(III) The facility agrees to hire the participant, but does not have funds available or a job opening until a specific date.
(IV) The facility has an opening in a different area from where the participant was working and agrees to hire the participant when additional time is granted for additional development of job skills.
(V) The participant showed improvement in all areas, but needs additional socialization skills and improved behavior patterns in a work setting.
(VI) The participant missed more than two weeks due to illness or the illness of a household member.
(VII) There are extenuating circumstances that prevented the participant from receiving full benefit of the job skills enhancement.
(ii) WEP-FP is approved for businesses or entities that operate for profit. Only one WEP-FP placement is allowed per 25 full-time employees in a for-profit business or entity. The criteria in (I) through (II) of this unit must be in effect prior to a WEP-FP placement.
(I) The placement matches the participant's employability plan and the career path chosen by the participant.
(II) The employer committed to hire the participant, on or before, the completion of the three-month placement.
(5) WEP procedures. Upon the county director, designated county staff, or the CDS approval, the worker contacts the WEP facility to complete Form 08TW015E, Work Experience Program - Non-profit Training Agreement, or Form 08TW115E, Work Experience Program -For-Profit Training Agreement.
(A) The worker instructs the facility representative or supervisor on the purpose and use of Form 08TW013E, Time and Progress Report.
(B) It is the participant's responsibility to complete Form 08TW013E and submit it to the worker by the day of the month shown on the form.
(C) Approved WEP slots not utilized within a six-month period are reviewed for appropriateness. When the position is no longer feasible, designated county staff or the CDS sends a letter to the facility stating the WEP slot is no longer active and may be re-evaluated at the facility's request.
(6) Non-cooperation by WEP facility. When the worker obtains information the facility is violating the terms and conditions of Forms 08TW015E and/or 08TW115E, or participants are treated unfairly, the county director is informed immediately. The nature of the allegations guides the necessary action that may include:
(A) suspension of subsequent assignments at the facility;
(B) immediate removal of current participants; or
(C) termination of the agreement.
(7) Notification to participant and facility. Ten-calendar days prior to the anticipated WEP completion date, or at any time the participant becomes ineligible for WEP, the worker notifies the participant by letter or phone call. The worker notifies the facility by letter or phone call five-calendar days prior to the termination.
(8) Changes in placements and subsequent placements. When the facility, worker, and participant determine placement in a different facility is more beneficial, the worker locates a new facility and arranges an interview for the participant. When the participant fails to secure employment following successful completion of WEP, a conference is held with the participant, worker, and supervisor to determine if a second WEP placement might be beneficial. The worker reviews the employability plan prior to allowing a participant to re-enter WEP. Consideration is given to reassignment to job search or another appropriate work activity. In making this decision, consideration must be given to the:
(A) participant's ability to secure and maintain fulltime employment;
(B) opportunities for employment in the new field and in the area in which the participant received job skills enhancement;
(C) participant's efforts to secure employment; and
(D) length of time between assignments.
(f) Community Partnership (CP). CP is unpaid employment in which TANF recipients perform work for the direct benefit of the community. A CP may be approved for both public and non-profit agencies and organizations. A CP assignment is limited to projects that serve a useful community purpose and are designed to improve the employability of recipients not otherwise able to obtain employment. All CPs must be approved by AFS TANF staff. Placements in CP require daily supervision. A recipient's training, experience, and skills are considered in making an appropriate CP assignment.
(1) Benefits. Participant program benefits include an opportunity to establish the basic skills necessary to obtain employment, such as daily attendance, appropriate attire, and proper behavior in a work environment. Participants also learn to balance the demands of home and work and gain confidence by performing in a job setting.
(2) CP facilities. CP facilities are solicited by designated county staff or the CDS. The ability of the CP to provide the necessary supervision and basic skills training are criteria used when soliciting a partnership.
(A) Training slots are developed to meet the participant's employment needs as determined by the employability plan.
(B) The worker submits Form 08TW019E, Community Partnership (CP) Approval Request, to AFS TANF staff for training facility approval.
(C) When a CP agrees to participate, the facility representative is requested to provide:
(i) a written description of the type of activities in which the participants will be involved;
(ii) the number of participants the CP can accept;
(iii) the hours of participation; and
(iv) any special requirements, such as uniforms or special equipment.
(D) No salary is paid.
(E) When injuries occur during working hours in CP, federal law requires medical coverage be offered under either state workers' compensation law or by DHS. Oklahoma workers' compensation law does not cover CP participants. Medical coverage is provided by the SoonerCare (Medicaid) Program.
(3) CP assignments. CP assignments are approved for an initial period of no more than 60-calendar days. When a participant requires additional training, the worker may approve a 30-calendar day extension. The criteria listed in (A) through (F) of this paragraph are used as a guide when determining the appropriateness of an extension request beyond the initial 60-calendar day period, but are not limited to:
(A) the participant needs additional time to acquire skills to meet minimum hiring requirements;
(B) the participant demonstrates a willingness to learn, but needs additional time to develop basic job skills necessary to compete in the labor market;
(C) the CP has an opening in a different area from the one in which the participant was trained;
(D) the participant shows improvement in all areas, but needs additional socialization skills and improved behavior patterns in a work setting;
(E) the participant missed more than two weeks of training due to illness or the illness of a household member; or
(F) extenuating circumstances prevented the participant from receiving the full benefit of the training.
(4) CP referrals. Participants are referred to CP slots based on their employability plan and the availability of CP positions. Assignment to a CP position is coordinated between the participant, worker, and the CP. Based on the employability plan, the participant and worker determine:
(A) which CP best meets the participant's needs; and
(B) the location, date, and time to report to the CP.
(5) Procedures. Upon approval by AFS TANF staff, the worker contacts the CP facility to complete Form 08TW020E, Community Partnership (CP) Agreement.
(A) The worker instructs the facility representative or the training supervisor regarding the purpose and use of Form 08TW013E.
(B) It is the participant's responsibility to complete Form 08TW013E and submit it to the worker by the day of the month shown on the form.
(6) Non-cooperation by CP. When the worker obtains information that the CP is violating the terms and conditions of Form 08TW020E or participants are treated unfairly, the worker informs the county director, designated county staff, or the CDS immediately. The nature of the allegations guides the necessary action that may include:
(A) suspension of subsequent CP assignments;
(B) immediate removal of the current participants; or
(C) termination of the agreement.
(7) Changes in placements and subsequent placements. Following successful completion of CP training, the worker and participant meet to determine if a second CP placement or other work activity might be beneficial. The worker reviews the employability plan prior to allowing a participant to enter the next work activity. When making this decision, consideration is given to:
(A) the participant's ability to secure and maintain employment;
(B) whether the participant needs additional training or placement opportunities to enhance employment skills; or
(C) whether the participant needs any educational opportunities to enhance employment skills.
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