March 16th, 2020

Temporary expansions in unemployment eligibility and cost-sharing

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and is easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.

COVID-19

Per an executive order from the the State of Michigan Office of the Governor:

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. It is caused by a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans and is easily spread from person to person. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease.

On March 10, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. On that same day, I issued Executive Order 2020-4, which declared a state of emergency across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.401 to 30.421, and 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31 to 10.33.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the public health, and provide essential protections to vulnerable Michiganders, it is reasonable and necessary to temporarily suspend rules and procedures to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits and cost-sharing with employers.

Click here to read the full executive order.

Under Governor Whitmer's Executive Order:

Unemployment benefits would be extended to:

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.

The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance.

Access to benefits for unemployed workers will also be extended:

  • Benefits will be increased from 20 to 26 weeks.
  • The application eligibility period will be increased from 14 to 28 days
  • The normal in-person registration and work search requirements will be suspended.

Eligible employees should apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or 1-866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can be found here.

Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.

The order also expands the State’s Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. More information about Work Share can be found here.

Additional unemployment resources for employees can be found here and for workers here.