COVID-19

Governor signs unemployment legislation, extends some payments through end of year

The bill extends unemployment benefits to 26 weeks, but also makes qualifying more difficult.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed legislation that will allow many in Michigan to keep receiving unemployment benefits as the pandemic continues to ravage the state and its economy.

The bill, passed unanimously in the State House and Senate last week, extends unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks and allows businesses to take advantage of work-share programs. It also picks up the tab for unemployment benefits that would normally be paid for by employers.

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Under the bill, some workers will be able to receive payments through the end of the year thanks to other, federal unemployment programs.

The legislation is meant to fill in for rules enacted by the governor under emergency management measures. Those measures were ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court earlier this month.

The new rules replicate much of the governor’s previous orders, but not everything will be the same. Under the new rules, people receiving unemployment benefits will again have to prove they are applying for work. New lookback requirements include 18 months of a person’s work history and may disqualify many from receiving benefits in the first place.

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