Workers affected by COVID-19 provided emergency relief through governor’s actions to expand unemployment benefits
Nearly 110,000 workers filed for benefits since governor’s order
LANSING, - As thousands of employees across Michigan are impacted by COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order signed on Monday to expand unemployment benefits continues to provide emergency relief to the state’s working families. While experiencing a tremendous increase in demand, Michigan’s unemployment system continues to serve customers.
“We understand that COVID-19 has caused economic harm to our workers as sacrifices are made to protect all of our residents. Extending and expanding unemployment benefits has provided emergency relief to many Michiganders,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “Even though we’ve seen an unprecedented need for emergency financial assistance, Michigan’s unemployment system, and it's hard working staff, continue to provide critical help online and over the phone. Michiganders impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic should continue to visit michigan.gov/UIA or call 866-500-0017 to apply for benefits.”
The latest data shows 108,710 unemployment claims were filed between last Monday and Friday, compared to a normal average of around 5,000 claims – an approximate 2,100% increase. States from around the country have experienced similar increases in unemployment claims as a result of COVID-19. Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) benefits are funded by a $4.6 billion trust fund which has been built up over the last 10 years.
Eligible employees are strongly encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits online at Michigan.gov/UIA or by calling 866-500-0017. A factsheet on how to apply for benefits can also be found online.
UIA offices will continue to serve the public, but lobbies are only open to residents with appointments.
The governor’s Executive Order 2020-10 also expands unemployment benefits to:
For Self Employed Workers
The State is also seeking solutions for self-employed workers and independent contractors who traditionally do not have access to unemployment insurance. The governor has requested that President Trump issue a Major Disaster Declaration so that Individual Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance through FEMA may be made available to additional Michiganders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Help for Employers
Under the governor’s 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 business operations during declines in regular activity instead of laying off workers. More information about Work Share is available online at www.michigan.gov/WorkShare.
Due to the uncertainty regarding potential congressional action regarding whether furloughed workers will be able to access federal resources, employers are urged to place employees on temporary leave as opposed to termination. To view the State’s guidance for employers contemplating potential layoffs, visit here.
Unemployment Resources for Employers.
Unemployment Resources for Employees.
Additional resources for employees and employers related to COVID-19 can be found on the state’s website here.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.