LANSING - On Wednesday, March 18th, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity provided guidance on how Michigan employers can avoid potential layoffs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We know that many families and businesses are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LEO Director Jeff Donofrio. “Through Governor Whitmer’s executive action and existing state programs, there are resources for employers affected by COVID-19. We are also strongly urging job providers facing work shortages to place their employees on temporary leave as opposed to termination, so that they may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.”
Employers are encouraged to utilize the Unemployment Insurance Agency's Work Share Program. Which allows them to maintain normal employment and business operations rather than laying off employees. Employers are also advised to allow employees temporary leave and advise workers to have work available within 120 days. There is no additional cost to employers and employees remain eligible for UI benefits through the state, and employees may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.
Here for some steps employers can take for placing employees on temporary unpaid leave:
-Do not terminate the employee– specify a temporary/indefinite leave with return to work expected that is within 120 days.
-Do not create a contractual obligation to bring the employee back to work – let the employee know that the situation is fluid and subject to change.
-Provide the employee with a formal Unemployment Compensation Notice. Employers will need to provide their Employer Account Number and Federal Identification Number.
-Communicate to the employee about their rights. Under Governor Whitmer’s recent executive order, workers are placed on leave, or are unable to work because they are sick, quarantined, immunocompromised, or have an unanticipated family care responsibility, are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
-Ensure employers are provided information on how to obtain unemployment insurance benefits.
-Get each employee’s up-to-date contact information.
-Let employees know if you will be putting updated information on the entity’s website or intranet, if applicable.
-Appoint a single, or limited number of individuals who will field questions, and communicate that information to employees.
-Keep a tally of all questions and answers and periodically share with employees.
The state will be updating any issues pertinent to continued medical insurance coverage accordingly. An employer or business must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed due to an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations.
MEDC's website: www.michiganbusiness.org or call 888.522.0103.
Michigan Small Business Development Center: https://sbdcmichigan.org/
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