Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan residents will continue to receive $ 300 aid when they return to work

July 13: Michigan changes unemployment laws. Now 648,000 services may have to be repaid
June 22: Michigan drops COVID-19 safety restrictions in most workplaces
June 17: Michigan House Republicans: End of $ 300 Pandemic Unemployment Benefit

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced a plan to reallocate federal unemployment benefits to encourage more laid-off workers to return to work.

Speaking at a morning press conference, Whitmer said that certain employees laid off during the pandemic and will receive federal unemployment benefits until Aug.

The measure will use federal American Rescue Plan unemployment benefits in addition to their salary if their employers participate in the state’s Work Share program.

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Whitmer said she also hopes to work with lawmakers to question new hires for the re-entry incentive. She said the move is meant to help businesses in need of workers and promote the state’s economic recovery.

“This is a way of encouraging people to get back to work without paying a price or making wrong decisions,” said Whitmer, without giving any timing or other details.

“Legislative action on these issues would mean more opportunities for workers, more opportunities for companies to attract and retain new and returning employees, and greater flexibility in work schedules for everyone as we work together to defeat COVID-19,” she continued.

As the number of COVID-19 cases across the country declines and Michigan will lift all pandemic restrictions on businesses by July 1, state officials are looking for ways to encourage more residents to get back to work after a turbulent year.

The state had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in April, which corresponds to about 231,000 unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, an additional 216,000 workers are no longer in employment, compared with just before the pandemic, when 4.91 million state residents were employed or actively looking for a job.

In May Michigan reintroduced the requirement for unemployed people to show that they are looking for a job in order to be eligible for benefits.

Through Michigan’s Work Share program, employees returning to their company with reduced hours and wages are eligible for partial state unemployment benefit, which essentially allows a part-time employee to be paid as if they were working full-time. Whitmer’s proposal would allow such employees to receive $ 300 on top of their income.

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunities website illustrates how the WorkShare program would affect an employee who typically receives a $ 1,000 weekly wage. If an employer wanted to reinstate the employee while cutting his wages and hours off by 30 percent, he would have a weekly wage of $ 700, but he would also get 30 percent of state unemployment benefit, which brings his salary to $ 808 elevated. The proposal to offer $ 300 federal unemployment checks would raise the worker’s salary to $ 1,108.

In April, House Republicans tabled a draft budget proposing that federal aid be used to give $ 1,000 to unemployed residents when they find employment.

The Detroit Regional Chamber previously suggested using federal aid to get unemployed Michigandans back into the workforce through grants that are returning to their old jobs and to employers for hiring new employees.

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, said the proposal would help expand the job market and help companies looking to get back to normal operations.

“We are very excited to be working with the governor on this plan as well to increase the workforce so that we can get people back to work and people reopen their businesses and give their customers the service they need” said Williams.

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