HR, Unemployment and Work Share Guidance

The Small Business Association of Michigan is committed to helping business owners navigate the very complex and very fluid issues regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

The information below is meant to serve as a guide. Please consult your attorney or HR professional for your personal situation. You can also email sbam@sbam.org for further assistance.

Read Executive Order 2020-76: “Temporary expansions in unemployment eligibility and cost-sharing.” 

Work Share Guidance

What is work share?

Work Share is a program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular businss activity rather than laying off workers.

The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio provided an update on the May 8 Edition of the Daily Briefing. Watch that here.

View Work Share Slides

Unemployment Resources

The Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) is the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing your UIA account online. Employees need to use the UIA’s daily filing schedule based on their last names.

Michigan UIA

Frequently asked questions

Employees applied for unemployment and already received their check but are interested in applying for the PPP. Do employees already on unemployment need to withdraw from unemployment in order to apply for PPP?

When they get approved for the loan, they will need to call their employees back and put them on payroll to qualify for the forgiveness. The employees should not terminate their unemployment until the business has been approved and received the money. They should not cancel unemployment ahead of the money coming through to add them to payroll.

Can I send an employee home if they are not willing to wear required PPE? What are my rights as an employer? Would they qualify for unemployment?

The direct answer is yes you can send the employee home and tell them that wearing a face mask is a safety policy that must be complied with. If they refuse you may discipline or discharge them. HOWEVER, it is recommended you engage them in a short ADA discussion by asking them why they refuse to wear the mask. If they do not have a reason involving a disability, then you can let them go.

They will be eligible for UI benefits under current qualification guidelines. If however you want to protest the claim you may state they were discharged for not complying with safety requirements and rules. Be sure to document how the termination occurred. UIA will have to decide if failing to wear a face mask under current circumstances amounts to a major safety violation and amounts to a disqualifying reason or not.

Also keep in mind that UI benefits are not chargeable back to the employer under current rules.

If I have hourly employees that work various hours depending on the work load, how do I calculate their wages?

Whatever their regular rate of pay was before their hours were reduced due to coronavirus and then use the 2/3rd their regular rate that would be capped in the aggregate.

Can a sole proprietor file for unemployment?

The business owner must be an employee of his or her company and have reported (and paid taxes) that they are being paid wages as an employee.

The governor, under the federal CARES Act, signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs that grant benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits. Workers include self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic. The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

How do I file for unemployment as a sole proprietor, self-employed, gig, etc.

  1. Apply as an employee at michigan.gov/UIA.
  2. After applying, you will get a denial and it will look something like this.
  3. Finally, apply through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) using these steps.

I have owners that are also employees but now cannot work remotely. Can they go on FMLA or are they exempt?

If the owners were reported on the quarterly report of wages they would pass the first qualification test. Secondly the UI applicant must be looking for and available for work. The emergency sick paid act local quarantine or isolation order requires employers to provide that benefit after all paid sick time off benefits apply.

If team members have already filed for unemployment and now should be FMLA, what process do I take to get them on the right path?

FMLA only matters for those with school age kids. For the rest of the employees, UIA is the only answer. I believe that leave of absence without pay is an internal designation. The unemployment filing does not delineate, so as long as your records show them as on leave, they should still qualify, even though they filed for Unemployment.

Can FMLA and Unemployment Insurance be leveraged together?

No. If the employee is laid off, there is no FMLA. If the employee is having reduced hours (furlough), FMLA may apply for the reduced hours if the employee is sick or otherwise taking care of an family member. The new law being proposed will allow a specific definition of FMLA for the COVID-19.

How can I help my employees file for unemployment?

Should you need to help direct your employees on claiming unemployment due to layoffs as a result of the coronavirus, according to the Office of Employer Ombudsman (OEO), direct your employees to www.michigan.gov/uia. Once on the web page, refer to “Fact Sheet 160 – Claiming Unemployment Benefits in Michigan.”

Where do I post the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice? Since most of my workforce is teleworking, where do I electronically “post” this notice?

Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

Regarding the Governor’s Executive Order on Expanding Unemployment Benefits for Michigan Workers 

Read EO 2020-76: “Temporary expansions in unemployment eligibility and cost-sharing.”

  • Does the 80 hours of paid sick leave have to be in addition to current sick leave or if we already had it in place and they had 80 hours starting 1/1/2020, are we compliant?
    • Those who already offer 80 hours of sick leave are compliant.
  • How will the employer be assessed for unemployment benefits for employees terminated/laid off due to COVID-19?
    • As the executive order was written only businesses who have been ordered to shut down by executive order will have relief or no rating impact when it comes to employees filing for unemployment.
  • The MiWAM waiver we submit is limited to 45 days, but the policy lasts 120 days. If this goes on past 45 days, we’ll have to file for extension.
    • According to MiWAM for Employers: “If you are an employer temporarily laying off workers, you can request a waiver of the work registration and seeking work requirements for your laid off worker(s). This waiver can only be requested if you expect work to be available within 45-days of the individual’s last day of work and must be requested prior to the individual becoming payable for benefits. To request this waiver, employers can log into their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) at www.michigan.gov/uia and click on the Seeking Work Waiver link. Employers will be required to enter the business’s employee’s last day worked and back to work date. If the laid off worker does not return to work within 45-days of the last day worked, the individual will need to register for work and begin looking for work. The waiver cannot be extended and late waiver requests or requests submitted without the required information will not be granted. For questions or assistance, contact the Office of Employer Ombudsman online through your MiWAM account or at 855.484.2636.

How will my business be impacted if I need to layoff workers?

State Provides Guidance to Employers Contemplating Potential Layoffs

Under the Governor’s order, unemployment benefits would be extended to:

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.

Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.

Risks and Recommendations for a Remote Workforce

Presented by NuWave Technology Partners and American Society of Employers (April 9, 2020).