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Michigan governor expands unemployment benefits amid coronavirus outbreak

Executive order in effect through April 14

Gov. Whitmer holds press conference after first cases confirmed (WDIV)
Gov. Whitmer holds press conference after first cases confirmed (WDIV) (WDIV)

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The executive order is effective immediately March 16 until Tuesday, April 14 at 11:59 p.m., according to Whitmer’s office.

Under the governor’s 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.

“While we work together to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we must do everything we can to help working families,” said Whitmer. “This executive order will provide immediate relief to those who can’t go to work, and who rely on their paycheck to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I urge everyone to make smart choices at this time, and to do everything in their power to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

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

Related: Food services provided for children, students during coronavirus outbreak

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.

Read more: Michigan orders gyms, cafes, theaters to close; limits bars, restaurants to carry out, delivery amid coronavirus

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.


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