Michigan Unemployment BenefitsMichigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) reinstated its work search requirements for unemployment benefit claimants. This reinstatement went into effect on May 31, 2021. Exceptions and exemptions remain.

Beginning in March 2020, the UIA suspended its work search requirements. This suspension stemmed from the significant number of Michiganders facing unemployment because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Work Search Requirements

Claimants, however, must now actively seek work and report at least one work search activity per week for each week they claim benefits. A work search activity may include:

  • Submitting a job application;
  • Attending a job fair or employment workshop; or
  • Interviewing with prospective employers.

There are COVID-19 exemptions. These exemptions are generally for:

  • Self-employed people;
  • People unable to work due to COVID-19; and
  • Parents with children attending school remotely because the school is closed.

If an individual has an approved waiver, they are exempt from the work search requirement. Claimants must apply for a waiver before their certification for benefits.

Besides COVID-specific waivers, claimants may also be exempt from the work search requirement if they are granted a temporary layoff waiver. The employer must request this type of waiver before a worker is laid off. The Registration and Seeking Work Waiver may be approved for 45 days. The criteria for establishing a waiver are:

  • The separation must be a layoff for lack of work;
  • The layoff is temporary (work will be available within 45 days); and
  • The request must be received before the layoff occurs (no later than the week before the layoff).

If the waiver is not requested before the layoff, it cannot be retroactively applied.

Refusing an Offer of Suitable Work

Suppose an employer offers suitable work to an employee or makes an offer for an employee to return to their previous job. In that case, the employee may lose unemployment benefits if the person refuses.

Both employers and employees must report offers and refusals of suitable work to the Agency. The employer should notify the UIA by submitting details of the rejection to the UIA’s MiWAM.

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn if you have questions about this article or complying with Michigan or federal employment laws. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn has represented companies and individuals concerning the issues discussed above and other employment matters under federal and Michigan employment laws.