A tweak from the Biden administration will allow people to still get unemployment benefits even if they decline going back to work or won’t accept a new job – but the change is limited in scope.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced the change last week, boasting of how it will help people who are concerned about going back to work and getting COVID-19.
“Until now, many workers have faced a devil’s bargain: Risk coronavirus infection, or choose some level of safety and live without income support,” said Suzi Levine, a USDOL spokesperson, in the release.
But the move won’t have wide implications in Michigan.
If a worker feels their prospective employer is unsafe, the state will do an investigation to see if the workplace is not adhering to COVID-19 rules, according to Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency spokesperson Lynda Robinson.
If the workplace is found to be in violation, the worker can get unemployment pay for the weeks the business is out of compliance.
“However, once (the rules are) met, the individual may no longer have good cause to refuse/not accept the work and will be not be eligible for benefits going forward,” Robinson said.
Also, unsafe workplaces not in compliance with COVID-19 rules were already not considered “suitable work” by Michigan unemployment standards, dating back to last summer. In other words, Michigan already had this caveat built into it’s system before the Biden administration mandated it.
Nationally, only 37,000 people were denied unemployment in 2020 because they refused to go back to work after being laid off, according to the Washington Post. The new change has little effect on the 1.23 million people who were denied unemployment last year after voluntarily quitting work, per the Post.