Can an Employee Refuse Work to Continue Collecting Unemployment?

Date: August 25, 2020

Generous Unemployment Benefits May Encourage Employees to Stay Home

With generous federal supplements to Unemployment Insurance Compensation, some employers are having difficulty getting laid off employees to come back to work. Although the $600 a week in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) expired on July 25, the promise of renewed benefits from Congress and the recent FEMA supplement is encouraging some employees to stay home rather than report back to work.

Now many small business owners are wondering: can an employee refuse work in order to stay home and collect unemployment? The short answer is no, not without “good-cause” as defined by the rules and regulations of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). However, contesting an employee’s refusal to work with the UIA will require some record keeping and effort on the part of the employer.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has issued some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and guidance to employers and employees regarding when an employee who refuses to return to work is or is not eligible for unemployment.  You can find the information HERE.

The new guidance does NOT allow employees to continue collecting unemployment benefits because they do not want to return to work because they were either afraid to return or they wanted to collect the extended federal unemployment benefits.

This document also clarifies the steps employers should take and information they should compile to report offers and refusals of suitable work to UIA. The plan includes sample letters for employers to review.



NFIB would also like to remind all members to carefully monitor their UIA accounts and any UI determinations they receive.  Due to issues at the UIA during Covid-19, many employers are finding their accounts have been charged for pandemic related benefit claims when they should not be according to Executive Orders 2020-76 and 2020-100.  If you find this is the case, you should IMMEDIATELY PROTEST THE CLAIM citing the above Executive Orders in order to preserve your rights within the timely protest window. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact NFIB in Michigan at 517-485-3409 or you can email Amanda Fisher, Assistant State Director at [email protected].


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