Michigan Governor Snyder Approves Jobless, Worker’s Comp Benefits Changes

Employers in the state of Michigan could potentially save cash for unemployment coverage and workman’s comp with changes enacted by Michigan’s Governor, Rick Snyder, last week. Opponents, however, state the changes could hinder hurt or unemployed individuals in receiving much-needed benefits.

The changes may require out-of-work individuals to become re-employed within two and a half months of receiving benefits, regardless if the work they take on falls outside previous employment experience, or requires a pay cut from previous employment. These changes could make it more difficult for an individual to receive unemployment benefits in cases of voluntary resignation or termination for cause.

The changes arrive on the heels of previous changes to law that truncate the amount of time unemployed individuals can receive benefits from the state – pruning the benefit to twenty weeks from the original twenty six. This change applies to those seeking new benefits beginning in January.

The Governor countered opponents who state that asking the unemployed to take employment paying 120% of the benefit they receive weekly could indenture them to underemployment by making it difficult to seek jobs more in line with their work experience.

The Governor stated that the new laws were meant to encourage employment, not to trap people into lesser employment. As Snyder explained, finding employment is easier when you have recent employment activity.

In addition, new changes to Michigan’s workman’s comp legislation – the first changes made to the law in more than twenty years – will require workers to take employment if they receive an offer of employment for a job they are physically capable of performing. Turning down offered employment runs the risk of having unemployment benefits terminated.

The Oxford GOP member Brad Jacobson explained, workers need to return to the work force as soon as practicable. Himself a business owner, he described seeing a previous employee receive workman’s compensation even beyond the point of being physically able to contribute to society.

This new legislation excludes certain municipal employees (such as fire and police workers) from the majority of new compensation guidelines. While Dems attempted to exclude other workers (such as corrections employees) these exclusions stalled as the changes headed through the approval process.