The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is implementing changes intended to make it easier and more convenient to obtain unemployment benefits. On August 22, 2019, the UIA will update its customer contact center using the leading phone technology to provide greater efficiency and more contact options. For both employers and individuals using the UIA’s system, this (probably) is good news.
More About the UIA
Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance provides temporary income to unemployed workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. The unemployment taxes paid by employers are the funding source behind the program. The UIA offers an array of online services to both unemployed workers and employees, but clients can access the organization via phone, an online account, or in person at one of 13 local offices statewide.
The Last Time the UIA “Improved” the System.
The last major update to the UIA occurred under the Snyder Administration in 2013. However, court filings revealed that Michigan’s $47 million program to “improve” the UIA had to be “scaled back” after thousands of people were wrongfully denied benefits or hit with fraud claims. See Inside Michigan’s faulty unemployment system that hit thousands with fraud. Worse, these wrongful denials resulted in a cascade of financial issues for these individuals, including improper penalties and bankruptcies.
Needless to say, there is a high ceiling for improving the UIA’s system.
What Is Changing?
But the current changes appear to focus on improving access and customer service. Specifically, the changes to the UIA include:
- Consolidating multiple phone lines into one main customer service number for employers.
- New menu options will guide callers to the customer service unit most suited to addressing the caller’s need. This system should streamline the process for those contacting the agency and better direct them to compatible agents.
- A new enhanced callback feature is intended to reduce the burden on callers previously forced to sit in call limbo, i.e., put on hold. Callers will have the option to hang up and receive a call back when their turn in the queue has been reached.
- A real-time chat application will also be added to the Michigan Web Account Manager. This upgrade enables callers to avoid phones and messages and chat with customer service live in real-time. Those seeking to contact the UIA can find this convenient option within their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to connect with customer service representatives during normal business hours.
New Contact Information and Hours for the UIA
The UIA’s new call-in number is 1-855-484-2636. It will handle all inbound calls going forward. You can reach UIA Employer Customer Service at 1-855-484-2636 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the hearing impaired, TTY service is available at 1-866-366-0004. You may also send a message online through the Michigan Web Account Manager or use the upcoming live chat feature beginning August 22.
If you are an employer who has questions about this article or for responding to a claim for unemployment benefits, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn. Our law firm collaborates with employers to assess when to oppose an unemployment claim and to best-position the company for successfully obtaining a denial of benefits.