Workers' Rights

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Must be Updated to be Functional and Fair for Workers

 

Currently, Michigan’s unemployment insurance (UI) system suffers from both low levels of benefits, and implementation that systematically denies workers of rights to UI payments, both through an online portal that over-flags errors in applications, accuses too many applicants of fraud, and provides insufficient recourse for claimants to correct errors or submit information that has no space on the application, nor to defend themselves against false fraud charges.

 

To improve Michigan’s UI system so that it serves workers and the economy:

  1. Improve the current online system to intake information more carefully and flag less cases for improper denial; 

  2. Establish an accessible system of transparency and accountability for claims review and rejection; publish claims denial rates and have claim information reviewed/audited by outside agencies.

  3. Restore from 20 to 26 the number of weeks of eligibility for UI payments

  4. Increase weekly payments to the level that is recommended and that peer states pay;  58% of the average weekly rate + an increased rate of $20/dependent.

  5. Simplify the formula to determine eligibility for UI  

  6. In calculating base wages, include tips and 1099 income (gig workers/contract/self-employed)

  7. Lower the qualifying income threshold for UI

  8. Allow contract/gig workers, self-employed and part-time workers to qualify for unemployment insurance

  9. Recognize inability to work due to childcare or medical issues.  Currently, these disqualify applicants for benefits, making Michigan an outlier.

  10. Amnesty for the MiDAS false fraud scandal claims and restitution to those who suffered losses due to false accusations.

 

The legislative priorities to improve the UI system are:
 
  1. Reintroduction of former House Bills 4894 and 4895:  These increase from 20 to 26 the number of weeks of unemployment payments, and increase the weekly benefit amount from the $362 set in 2000, which is 34% of the average weekly wage, to $542 which matches the prior percentage of 58% of the average weekly wage,  to be readjusted to 58% of the weekly average wage, every year.

  2. Reintroduction of former House Bills 5882-9:  These bills remove the full-time work requirement for unemployment, and extend UI to contract and gig workers.  [NOTE:  need to read the bills for more particulars and to see if they are permanent or Covid-only changes]

Institutional/UI online system improvement:
 
  1. Improve the UI intake system to reduce the numbers of improper denials .  Upgrade the system to stop the over flagging. 

  2. Access to UI agency liaisons for claimants and claimant advocates to resolve problems with claims and benefits.

  3. Transparency in resolution of cases by the UIA.