Mar. 18th, 2020

FAQ’S Regarding Unemployment Benefits in Michigan

May my employees file for unemployment during the shutdown of my business?  The state’s Unemployment Agency has created a waiver of the work registration and seeking work requirements for employers who are temporarily laying off workers. This waiver can only be requested if you expect work to be available within 45 days of the individual’s last day of work and must be requested prior to the individual becoming payable for benefits.

To request this waiver,  employers can log into their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) at www.michigan.gov/uia and click on the Seeking Work Waiver link. Employers will be required to enter the business’s employee’s last day worked and back-to-work date. If the laid-off worker does not return to work with 45 days of the last day worked, the individual will need to register for work and begin looking for work. The waiver cannot be extended, and late waiver requests or requests submitted without the required information will not be granted.

For questions or assistance, contact the Office of Employer Ombudsman online through your MiWAM account or call 855-484-2636

Do we as employers need to submit claims on behalf of our employees in order for them to receive benefits?  Employers can choose to do so through the Employer Filed Claims process OR you can instruct your employees to file on their own behalf.  You should be providing employees with this form when you let them know that they are being temporarily laid off.  Here are a few other helpful links to assist them with the process:

If the employer is temporarily closing their place of business or temporarily laying off workers, should they complete the waiver of the work registration and seeking work requirements for their laid off worker(s) before the employees file for unemployment benefits?  Yes.  This can be done by logging into the employer’s MiWAM account.  To request this waiver, employers can log into their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) at www.michigan.gov/uia and click on the Seeking Work Waiver link. Employers will be required to enter the employee’s last day worked and back to work date. If the laid off worker does not return to work within 45-days of the last day worked, the individual will need to register for work and begin looking for work.  The waiver cannot be extended and late waiver requests or requests submitted without the required information will not be granted.  For additional information including the timeframe for requesting the waiver, follow this link.

If an employee elects to use available sick/vacation/PTO to cover a portion of their layoff, does this affect their ability to receive unemployment benefits?  It depends on how much they earn and/or how many days they receive compensation (for hours worked, severance pay and/or paid time off bank payouts).  Employees have to report any earnings they receive when they call into the Unemployment Insurance Agency to certify for benefits every two weeks. Historically, here is how the state determined if the employee will receive unemployment benefits in addition to other forms of compensation for a week in which they receive the additional payment:

The amount unemployment benefits will be reduced by compensation/remuneration is determined in the following way:

  1. If the compensation (for hours worked, severance pay and/or paid time off bank payouts) earnings attributed to a week equals or exceeds 1½ times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount (which is currently capped at $362/week), then the claimant is entitled to no unemployment benefits for the week.
  2. If the claimant’s earnings are less than 1½ times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount but greater than the claimant’s weekly benefit amount, then the full amount of the compensation earnings payment is subtracted from 1½ times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount (and the claimant’s balance of weeks of benefit eligibility will be reduced by 1 week, if the claimant claims benefits for that week).
  3. If the earnings payment is equal to, or less than, the claimant’s weekly benefit amount, then half the compensation earnings payment is subtracted from the claimant’s weekly benefit amount (and the balance of weeks of benefit eligibility will be reduced by 1 week if the claimant claims that week).

How long before employees receive their benefits?  It was mentioned that the Agency is looking to expedite payments so that employees receive them within 1 week of applying.  Typically, the process would take about 2 weeks after applying and then the Agency would backdate the first payment to cover that first week.  Payments are received weekly thereafter.

Please contact the team at Hungerford Nichols CPA + Advisors if you have questions or need clarification.
Phone: 616-949-3200
email: info@hungerfordnichols.com