Virginia’s Return to Earn Grant Program

Renner Business News; July 29, 2021—Paige Mason, CPA

On May 31, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam invested $3 million in the newly launched Return to Earn program for Virginia workers and small businesses. The program matches up to $500 paid to a new employee, up to 25 new employees, for childcare, transportation or other barriers to re-employment.

Many Virginians who lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic still face barriers in returning to work, such as access to affordable child care and transportation.

“These bonuses will serve as an incentive for unemployed workers to get back into the workforce while also helping employers fill vacant jobs,” Northam said on June 11.

So how exactly does it work?

Let’s say a business hires a new employee and pays him or her $500 for transportation costs. The business could then receive a $500 grant through the Return to Earn program to match the funds spent for the transportation costs and further help the new employee.

An eligible business must have fewer than 100 employees. The office or facility must be located in Virginia, and the business must be incorporated in Virginia. The new employee must be a W-2 employee hired on or after May 31, 2021, and earning at least $15 per hour. Tipped employees can qualify if the base rate plus tips is at least $15 per hour, and full- or part-time employees are eligible.

Qualifying small childcare businesses are eligible for a reimbursement of childcare, transportation or other re-employment barriers, up to $500, per new hire. The grant funds do not need to be paid to the employee, rather the business can use the funds to offset the expenses. A qualifying small childcare business is a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation with services delivered in a home or a childcare center that is licensed or legally exempt from licensing.

To apply for funding, contact your local workforce development board at virginiacareerworks.com. Funds will be matched upon confirmation of the business paying the new employee, either as a lump sum or in installments. The employee must attest that he or she is not currently employed in another W-2 position, but he or she does not need to verify how the funds were used.

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