By Staff

Originally published May 25, 2021

BOSTON (CBS) — A so-called “Get Back To Work Bonus” is being debated at the Massachusetts State House. Lawmakers are discussing an amendment to the 2022 budget that would pay unemployed residents up to $1,200 if they get a job.

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“A bonus of $1,200 will be given to any individual collecting unemployment benefits who returns to work between the adoption of the FY22 budget and September 4, 2021,” reads the amendment filed by state Sen. Ryan Fattman, a Sutton Republican.

The proposal would use funds from the American Rescue Plan to pay people $400 for securing a job, another $400 after six months of employment and a final $400 after a full year of continuous employment.

“We want not only to incentivize people to work, but we want to keep them employed,” Fattman told WBZ-TV.

Several other states including Connecticut and New Hampshire have announced plans for similar moves.

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“We have one system that says we’re going to pay you $1,100 a week to stay home and be unemployed,” Fattman said. “I think a better alternative is saying we’re going to give you a bonus to get back to work.”

Massachusetts, which has a 6.5% unemployment rate that’s slightly above the national average, is bringing back the work search requirement for unemployment claims once the state of emergency expires June 15. Anyone seeking unemployment benefits in Massachusetts will have to show they are actively searching for a job.

Employers have had a tough time finding help as the state prepares to fully reopen on May 29.

“What the businesses are telling me in my district is that they’re having a hard time competing with $1,100 wages being paid out per week on unemployment,” Fattman said. “I want to try to make sure people get off unemployment, get back to work. We can support our small businesses and we can go back to a state of normalcy and success in our society.”

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There were a record 200,000 job listings in Massachusetts in April, the state said. Staff