What is the Work Share program?
As employers start to reopen across Michigan, they are doing what is best for their business and their employees. Some companies have reduced their hours and are doing a slow startup. This situation has raised some concerns for laid-off employees regarding the potential reduction in their unemployment benefits.
One option employers could consider is utilizing Michigan’s Work Share program. Work Share allows employers to bring back their employees with reduced hours, while employees still collect partial unemployment benefits to make up for the portion of lost wages.
How does this program work?
Weekly benefit amounts will vary depending on past employment history. Let’s say an employee earns $360 per week. The company had to cut hours and reduced this employee’s hours by 10%. Under the Work Share program, this employee would receive a Work Share benefit payment of $36 ($360 x 10%) in addition to their wages. Employees participating in this plan due to COVID-19 are also eligible to receive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 per week in addition to their Work Share benefit through July 2020.
Who is eligible?
Under Executive Order 2020-57, the Work Share program eligibility requirements have been expanded.
- All employees in the affected unit must participate in the plan.
- A plan must include at least two employees.
- Employee work hours and wages may be reduced by a minimum of 10% or up to a maximum of 60%.
- This plan may be approved for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks.
This program may be used by almost all types of business in any industry. However, Work Share does not apply to seasonal, temporary, or intermittent employment.
Why is it beneficial, and why should employers take advantage of it?
- It helps minimize or eliminate the need for layoffs.
- The program enables businesses to retain trained employees and avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.
- Employees are spared the hardship of full unemployment and get more income than if they were entirely laid off.
- It helps save the business money by keeping the skilled workforce intact.
How does a business apply?
Employers must apply for this program online through the Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) at michigan.gov/uia. For this process, the employer will need the following information:
- A description of the affected work unit (or units) that will be covered under the plan
- The number of full- or part-time workers in the unit covered by the plan
- The percentage of workers in the unit that will be covered under the plan
- The name and social security number of everyone covered in the plan
- The employer’s unemployment tax account number (UIA account number)
- An estimate of the number of workers who would have been laid off in the absence of the Work Share plan (for example, if they would have had to lay off 50% of employees who would have then had to collect unemployment)
- The plan must include a description of how workers in the affected unit will be given advance notice of the employer’s participation in the Work Share plan.
For businesses that aren’t prepared to resume operations all at once and need a more gradual alternative, Work Share can provide that flexibility. Employers can visit Michigan.gov/WorkShare for a tutorial on how to sign up, FAQs and other resources to participate in the program.