Unemployed Must Register With Michigan Works! To Get UIA Benefits Under Bill
June 8, 2021
People would have to register for work with Michigan Works! within 21 days after applying for Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) benefits in order to receive them, under a bill discussed in a Senate committee Thursday.
Since 1997, any Michigan resident filing for an unemployment insurance claim — who does not have a return-to-work date — must report in-person to a Michigan Works! office to register for work within five business days, according to Jennifer Llewellyn of the Oakland County Michigan Works! Agency.
However, in 2019, the Michigan Works! network received notification that UIA would be discontinuing the work-registration requirement.
Llewellyn said the network was informed the in-person work registration requirement was believed to be the direct cause to why the Michigan UIA was falling behind on its first payment timeliness-requirements, which had been drizzling down for years leading up to pulling the plug.
“Early data from the Michigan Works! Network showed that this change could result in a 70% to 80% decrease in job seekers who receive workforce development benefits. This would directly impact our job seekers, our employers who are struggling to find talent right now and our partners,” Llewellyn said.
Thursday’s testimonies in support of Sen. Ken Horn’s (R-Frankenmuth) SB 0501, additionally cosponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), came in representation of the 16 Michigan Works! agencies, with 99 operating-locations across 83 counties in the state.
Llewellyn said the aforementioned requirement is unique to Michigan, the product of a national model, fulfilled with federal funds and meets the federal work registration requirements.
Horn said the idea behind SB 0501 is that there already is a five-day registration requirement through the rulemaking process — “and so this one is just simply going from five to 21. We’re codifying that.”
“Work registration provides a secondary layer of fraud detection, saving the state of Michigan and our employers millions of dollars each year,” Llewellyn said, explaining Michigan Works! would be responsible each day for electronically transmitting verifications to UIA that individuals had completed the mandated process.
Already, the Michigan UIA reinstated on March 30 the requisite for claimants to be actively searching for work and performing at least one work-search venture per week.
The bill does not specifically state residents register in-person, but to be in contact with a Michigan Works! agency, which Horn suggested would make way for some flexibility in the post-pandemic world.
Workers’ Rights Clinics Director Rachael Kohl opposed the legislation, saying it doesn’t “actually do anything more than what’s already being done by an administrative rule.”
“Administrative Rule 208 already states that the claimant shall register for work as instructed by the agency and the (UIA’s) instructions right now are that people register in-person with Michigan Works! But having that policy internalized has built-in flexibility to ensure that Michigan workers are registering at the best service available,” Kohl said.
Although Kohl said Michigan Works! is a great service, she emphasized codifying a private organization into the law to always be the one-and-only reemployment source for Michigan “actually takes away competition from other organizations that might actually be or become better suited.”
“Solidifying a private entity’s role in our reemployment options for the state is not going to foster competition to be able to ensure that they are consistently offering and offering the best things possible,” she said.
Horn said his office is working with stakeholders to not be so overly prescriptive that a claimant would be limited in any way.