Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Bill to Benefit Part-Time Workers Who Received Pandemic Jobless Benefits

    LANSING  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 445, amending the Michigan Employment Security Act to allow certain unemployed workers eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to receive benefits even though they were available only for part-time work.

    Previously, PUA claimants were required to be able and available for full-time work. 

    “As we continue to grow our economy, my top priority is working toward bipartisan solutions to save Michiganders time and money,” Whitmer said. “I’ve always said that Michiganders should not be penalized for doing what was right at the time they applied for federal pandemic benefits. The changes in this legislation will streamline our unemployment system and provide relief to Michiganders who needed these federal benefits to pay their bills, keep food on the table, and continue supporting small businesses.” 

    The change would affect PUA claims filed after March 1, 2020, for those who had issues due to only being available for part-time work. The PUA program ended in September. 

    “This is an important change for part-time workers under PUA,” said Julia Dale, Director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. “The federal program allowed for certain workers to qualify for benefits that helped them stay caught up with their bills.” 

    Senate Bill 445, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, passed the Michigan Senate unanimously and the Michigan House by a 101-3 vote. 

    “Combined with Gov. Whitmer’s success in securing flexibility from the federal Dept of Labor, the signing of this legislation will provide relief to thousands of people fighting with UIA over paperwork,” Irwin said. 

    Signing Senate Bill 445 continues Governor Whitmer’s support for workers, including those who are unemployed. Her Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget recommendation includes $88 million to strengthen Michigan’s unemployment insurance system. 

    Of that amount, $75 million is proposed for the replacement of the computer system the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency uses to process jobless claims and employer transactions. The Michigan Integrated Data Automated System was activated nearly 10 years ago. The remaining $13 million is proposed for enhanced unemployment insurance fraud enforcement.