LANSING — On Wednesday, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-76, expediting the unemployment benefits process during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The most significant takeaway from this development: The state will now only look at an unemployed individual’s most recent job separation, which is the cause of the current unemployment, to determine benefit entitlement. The order also extends and builds upon Whitmer’s earlier executive orders.
Whitmer said the new order will expedite benefits for tens of thousands of Michiganders who have filed for unemployment benefits. It also extends Executive Order 2020-57, which:
- Expands the state’s workshare program, offering more tools to employers to reduce layoffs and restart their businesses.
- Extends unemployment benefits to workers.
- Who have an unanticipated family care responsibility.
- Who are sick, quarantined or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
- Extends unemployment benefits to workers who voluntarily left a job after accepting new employment, but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic.
- Allows anyone with an active unemployment claim to receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.
- Suspends the requirement for individuals seeking unemployment to request a registration and work search waiver from their employer.
- Allows Unemployment Insurance Agency retirees to keep their retirement benefits if they return to work to process unemployment claims or serve on the Occupational Health and Safety Commission.
- Expands cost-sharing with employers to reduce layoffs.
Due to the Whitmer administration’s COVID-19 response, Michigan is one of only a few states that have begun issuing the additional $600 pandemic benefit from the U.S. government, according to Michele Evermore of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit National Employment Law Project, as reported in the Detroit Free Press.
According to Roll Call, Michigan has the second-lowest percentage of claimants still awaiting a decision on benefits, with only New York having a lower percentage of undecided claims. Michigan is third behind Vermont and West Virginia in the percentage of claimants receiving benefits, according to a recent New York Times report.