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Rapid Response Assistance

COVID-19 and Impacted Businesses

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH), issued guidance for non-essential businesses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. If you are a business with questions on the guidance, you can contact DCED at

However, if you are a business that has had to close either temporarily, consider layoffs, or is financially at-risk for permanent closure our Rapid Response Team is available to assist you with a variety of services and resources. Please contact the team directly at and a member of the team will be in touch within 48 hours.

The Rapid Response one-pager provides an overview of the services the team provides. The Rapid Response Information Guide can be downloaded or printed for easy reference and provides a thorough break-down of the program as well as a list of services, resources, Rapid Response Regional Contacts and Workforce Development Board contacts.

For the most accurate and timely COVID-19 information in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Department of Health website,, Facebook page and Twitter account.

Rapid Response Benefits

Community Benefits

Employer Benefits

Worker Benefits

Rapid Response is an early intervention service that assists workers and employers affected by layoffs, plant closures, or natural disasters. It provides access to the Commonwealth's PA CareerLink system of user-friendly resources and information to help transition workers into reemployment.

The sooner employers, their workers, and the community come together to manage the change, the better the outcome for everyone:

  • The community maintains its tax base;
  • Businesses are better able to manage their human resource needs, Unemployment Insurance costs, and Worker Compensation costs during the transition; and
  • The impact on the family's quality of life is minimized

The Rapid Response program was developed to help dislocated workers who are part of a large layoff. Its primary objective is to provide workers with the resources and services they need to allow them to find new jobs or get the training and education needed for new careers so that they can get back to work quickly.

Rapid Response activities are triggered when the Department of Labor and Industry learns of a planned closure or layoff either by receiving a notice as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, through the media, or by contacts in the local area. Services may also be offered when Pennsylvania experiences mass job dislocation as the result of a disaster. There is no charge to the employer or employee for these services and they are provided regardless of the reason for the layoff.

Pennsylvania's Rapid Response Coordination Services has specialists that meet with the employer and when appropriate, the representative of the employees, to discuss the services that are available through the program. The Rapid Response specialist will pull together a team of experts to provide workers with information about and access to services, such as the following, in a centralized and convenient location before the layoff or closure occurs:

  • Unemployment Insurance;
  • Health and pension benefits;
  • Job search activities;
  • Education services;
  • Training Program;
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and NAFTA/TAA programs;
  • Social Services programs;
  • Community and economic development activities;
  • Emergency assistance; and
  • Crisis counseling.

Rapid Response also offers assistance to local communities so that a proactive and coordinated response can be designed, and access to Pennsylvania's economic development assistance resources can be obtained. Economic development assistance programs are designed to help businesses that are at risk of closing to keep their doors open. In addition, these programs can help businesses reduce the size of a layoff.

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Community Benefits

Community relationships and structure form the basis for some of the most dynamic and effective transition services available. Community institutions bonding together have a greater impact on marketing the community and its workforce to prospective new companies. A community's "attitude" is often the marketing or selling point for adding new industry.

When workers are laid off it not only has significant impact on the individual affected, but also on family members and the community. Rapid Response activities developed within the structure of the community empower the members of the community to be a part of the solution. Community involvement may be in the form of emotional, financial support, or resources but always in the role of advocacy or support to the affected worker population.

The benefits of Rapid Response to the community include:

  • Working with local and state elected officials;
  • Helping to save its tax base by keeping workers employed;
  • Lessening the economic impact on other businesses within the community;
  • Responding to job and business loss when a natural disaster occurs;
  • Coordinating available resources by tapping into the community's service providers;
  • Reducing emotional and financial stress on the community by offering workshops for unemployed workers; and
  • Coordinating support groups for unemployed workers.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership at Toll Free 866-858-2753.

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Employer Benefits

When a company has to layoff workers, both employer and employees face a traumatic upheaval. The economic consequences may be widespread.

The more quickly Rapid Response activities are begun, the more time is available for workers to overcome their fears and begin their reentry into the workforce. Early intervention allows employers and employees to communicate their concerns to the Rapid Response specialist and to employment and training experts who will customize services for the specific population being laid off.

For companies, the impact of laying off workers can be significant. A number of studies found that the way a company handles a layoff might affect its image, reputation, and productivity. According to this research, when a layoff occurs, it is likely to lead to a demoralized workforce which in turn can result in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, lost loyalty, and reduced customer service. Rapid Response services help mitigate the negative consequences of layoffs by helping the company:

  • Better manage human resource needs, Unemployment Insurance costs, and Worker Compensation costs during the transition;
  • Assist affected workers to return to work and maintain their standard of living;
  • Maintain good corporate citizenship in the community
  • Improve worker morale; and
  • Maintain or increase productivity during the transition period and beyond.

When employers contact Pennsylvania's Rapid Response Coordination, they can expect:

  • A quick response to their transition planning needs;
  • Confidentiality concerning their business decisions;
  • Assistance in understanding government regulations;
  • Information about the Shared Work program that may be an alternative to layoffs;
  • Help in conducting an orderly shutdown; and
  • Pre-layoff services designed to help workers shorten their transition time.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership at Toll Free 866-858-2753.

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Worker Benefits

Some people view being laid off as a crisis while others may view the situation as an opportunity to find a better or more enjoyable job. The Rapid Response program helps laid off workers turn the challenge of a layoff into an opportunity by providing information about, and access to, the services that will help put workers back to work. Most of the services are available through the neighborhood PA CareerLink centers.

The services include:

  • Career counseling;
  • Job search assistance;
  • Information about education and training opportunities;
  • Use of computers, telephones, and fax machines for a job search;
  • Financial support for training;
  • Income support if a job was lost to foreign trade; and
  • Special services for adults with disabilities and veterans.

For additional information, please contact the Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership at Toll Free 866-858-2753.