U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210

CLASSIFICATION

 

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

 

ISSUE DATE

May 05, 1995

RESCISSIONS

None

EXPIRATION DATE

May 31, 1996

DIRECTIVE

:

GENERAL ADMINISTRATION LETTER NO. 03-95

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

Barbara Ann Farmer
Administrator for Regional Management

 

SUBJECT

:

Operating Instructions for implementing the Break in Training Provision under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program (TAA) and the NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance Program (NAFTA-TAA).

  1. Purpose: To inform the States and cooperating State agencies of the Department's goal of easing the hardship imposed by the break in training provision and to furnish revised operating instructions on implementing the break in training provision. These operating

  2. Contact: States are to direct all inquiries to the appropriate ETA Regional Office.

  3. References: Section 223(f) of the Trade Act of l974 (l9 U.S.C. 2293(f)) and 20 CFR 617.15(d).

  4. Background: Under the TAA and NAFTA-TAA programs, weekly trade readjustment allowances (TRA) may be available to adversely affected workers while they are participating in an approved training program. Section 233(f) of the Trade Act of l974 specifies that, when a worker is participating in an approved training program before the break, the worker is treated as being in training during a regularly scheduled break in training that does not exceed l4 days.

    This provision is implemented by 20 CFR 617.15(d), which provides that a scheduled break in the training program of l4 days or less will not disqualify a trainee for TRA during the break. However, if the scheduled break exceeds l4 days, as calculated in accordance with 20 CFR 617.15(d)(4), the individual will not receive TRA during such break.

    Since semester breaks of more than l4 days are quite common, this l4-day limitation creates hardship for many TAA and NAFTA-TAA participants. While some States and training providers have attempted to accommodate this limitation by scheduling activities for affected workers that prevent a break in excess of 14 days, such efforts are not always feasible. Therefore, significant inequities result because the availability of income support may depend on the particular State and training institution where the individual participates.

    A Departmental review of the impact of Section 233(f) of the Trade Act, stimulated by complaints from TAA and NAFTA-TAA participants and their representatives, disclosed wide variations among the States in terms of the financial hardship imposed on dislocated workers as a result of the break in training provision. In some States, no TAA or NAFTA-TAA participants are affected while, in others, 80 percent or more of the trade- impacted dislocated workers are denied benefits during regularly scheduled semester breaks.

    Because of the financial hardship imposed by this provision and its inequitable impact among States, Senator Kerry (for himself and Senator Kennedy) and Congressman Olver have introduced bills (S. 556 and H. R. 1231, respectively) that would amend the Trade Act of 1974 to expand the allowable break from 14 days (as calculated under the interpretation set forth in 20 CFR 617.15(d)) to 45-calendar days.

    As an interim solution until such time as an amendment is enacted and the regulations are revised, the Department has developed new operating instructions to minimize both the number of individuals adversely affected and the degree of adverse impact on each of those individuals.

  5. Operating Instructions: These operating instructions are to be implemented pending enactment of an amendment to Section 233(f) of the Trade Act. It is the intent of the Department in issuing these revised operating instructions that States take active and aggressive steps to prevent TAA and NAFTA-TAA participants who are in training before the break and who continue training after the break from experiencing a semester break in training that exceeds 14 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, or official State or National holidays). This GAL is not intended to apply to summer breaks and other breaks between semesters that have normally been more than 45 days.

    Following are guidelines and suggested actions for ensuring that individuals are not disallowed benefits due to breaks of more than 14 days.

    1. The State agencies should negotiate with training vendors that have regularly scheduled breaks of more than 14 days (as calculated under 20 CFR 617.15(d)) to resume classes earlier for TAA and NAFTA-TAA participants. If the training vendors are unable to comply, alternative vendors should be given preference in placing TAA and NAFTA-TAA participants.

    2. If placement must be made at a vendor with a break longer than 14 days, the State agency is to encourage the vendor to arrange that special components of the training be developed and convened during the break. These special components must be integral to the attainment of the objectives of the overall training plan, and must be made part of that plan at the onset, and not simply to circumvent Section 233(f).

    Excluding summer breaks, in those instances when a break in training will exceed 14 days, the State agency must, prior to the break:

    1. Advise the trainee in writing of the break in training provision and have the trainee sign an acknowledgement indicating an understanding and acceptance of the implications of the provision; and

    2. Document its attempts to provide the participant with information and opportunities for acceptable training options that do not entail a break in training of more than 14 days.

    NOTE: Failure of the State agency to satisfy the above two conditions does not mean that the trainee is entitled to TRA during the break. There is no authority to waive the 14-day limitation of Section 233(f).

  6. Action Required: States are to implement the Operating Instructions of this GAL effective on the date of issuance. States are to inform all appropriate staff of the contents of this document.

  7. Attachments: None