GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency is once again requiring people to look for work if they’re receiving benefits.
Claimants have to start proving it when certifying for the week ending June 5.
It’s important to make sure you document everything because if you make mistakes, there’s a chance you won’t get benefits or will have to pay them back.
“Because everything was so in flux, the work-search requirement was able to be waived,” said unemployment advocate Rachael Kohl.
Michigan’s UIA is updating its requirements. During COVID, people did not have to prove they were looking for a job to collect benefits. But that all changed starting May 30.
“Because there now are many areas jobs available, and so the goal now is to hopefully get people back to work who can go back to work,” said Kohl.
Starting this week if you are claiming benefits, you must actively be searching for work and conduct at least one work-search activity a week.
Then, report what you did when you certify. Those will not be paid until everything’s been reported to the UIA.
“Most people that are trying to go back to work are trying to find that next job, and they’re applying to anything that looks within the realm of what they’re interested in doing and have the capability of doing,” said Kohl.
You’ll need specific details about the search when submitting to the UIA, including:
The date of contact, which has to fall within your certification week.
The activity—like submitting applications and attending job fairs.
Name of the employer or online employment service.
Their address or website.
And method of contact—whether in person or by phone or email.
The agency can ask you to verify your submissions anytime. If they’re inaccurate or incomplete, you may have to pay benefits back. Also, make sure to save all of your emails or documents for proof.
“The agency recommends that you keep records for up to two years. I recommend you keep them up to six,” said Kohl. “The agency may or may not have the ability to go back and look at it and assess you later much later in time after that.”
A waiver may be granted for certain COVID-19 reasons like if your child is learning remotely because school is closed; you can’t work due to allowable COVID-19 reasons; or you’re self-employed receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
If you’re still on the job with reduced hours, you may qualify as well.
“If the employer wants to keep you and believes that they’re going to be able to return you to full-time work, they can fill out a waiver for you on your behalf,” said Kohl. “That waiver will apply for you so you don’t have to look for additional work and you can just keep collecting underemployment.”
You have to apply for the waiver before certifying, and you’ll be notified right away whether it’s granted.
The biggest advice is to be truthful because if you’re filing false information, that’s fraud.
“The agency would then have to charge you with fraud and then you’d have to pay back every single dollar you ever got from unemployment and there’s also a penalty as well,” said Kohl.
You can report your work-search requirements on MIWAM or over the phone with MARVIN at (866)-638-3993.