In our January 2012 newsletter, HAS alerted our readers to some of the changes affecting employers with the amendments to the Michigan Employment Security Act. The bills signed December 19, 2011 also made changes that will impact those receiving unemployment benefits. Below we have highlighted some of those changes:

  • The MES Act requires an individual to be registered for and seeking work to be eligible for benefits. The new bill requires an individual to be ‘actively engaged’ in seeking work and report details of their work search in order to qualify for benefits. The reports submitted must include the name and physical or online location of each employer where work was sought, and the date and method by which the work was sought.
  • As of January 15, 2012, after receiving benefits for 50% of the benefit year, work will not be considered unsuitable because it is out of a person’s training or experience if it pays at least minimum wage and 120% of the weekly benefit amount.
  • Previously, an individual was disqualified from receiving benefits if he or she left work  voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer. Under the bill, being absent from work for at least three consecutive work days without contacting employer is considered voluntarily leaving work. In addition, an individual who becomes unemployed as a result of negligently losing a requirement of the job will also be considered to have voluntarily left work.
  • An individual claiming to have left work involuntarily for medical reasons must provide a medical professional’s statement that continuing in the current job would be harmful to the individual’s physical or mental health to receive  unemployment benefits. An individual must also show that they have unsuccessfully attempted to secure alternative work with the employer and unsuccessfully attempted to be placed on a temporary leave of absence with the employer.
  • Prior to this bill, an individual was considered unemployed for any week of less than full time work if the remuneration received was less than their individual benefit rate. Currently, an individual is considered unemployed if the compensation is less than 1-3/5 times their weekly benefit rate. However, after October 1, 2015 the amount received cannot exceed 1.5 times the benefit rate to be considered unemployed.
  • The act requires the weekly rate of an individual to be reduced with respect to each week in which he or she earns or receives remuneration. Previously, the rate had to be reduced by 50 cents for each whole dollar earned. The bill lowers the reduction to 40 cents for each dollar earned until October 1, 2015. At that time it will return to 50 cents.