U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) yesterday announced he secured inclusion of his legislation to expand unemployment assistance in the third Coronavirus package. This comes after Peters has worked tirelessly and pushed to expand unemployment benefits for Michiganders impacted by Coronavirus.
Peters’ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act would create a temporary unemployment compensation program to provide federally funded benefits to people unable to work because of the Coronavirus. It would expand who is eligible for unemployment to include workers who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits or other workers who would not usually qualify, such as self-employed workers like small business owners, freelance workers, independent contractors, and seasonal workers as well as individuals who’ve recently started or were about to start a new job. Workers could receive benefits for up to 39 weeks.
“Michiganders who aren’t receiving a paycheck or have lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t have to worry about whether they can pay their bills or put food on the table,” said Senator Peters. “After negotiating in a bipartisan manner, I’m pleased my bill to expand unemployment insurance is part of the new Coronavirus bill. This will mean that everyone from small business owners to workers in the gig economy and independent contractors will have the ability to receive this critical assistance. We need to do everything possible to support Michigan workers and families during this extraordinarily challenging time and expanded unemployment assistance will help them stay afloat.”
“As we work together to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and address this economic crisis, we must do everything in our power to help Michigan workers and their families,” said Governor Whitmer. “Thanks to Senator Peters’ leadership, the Senate’s newest Coronavirus legislation includes his Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act that will expand unemployment benefits for those who aren’t receiving a paycheck because of Coronavirus, including gig economy workers, independent contractors and small business owners. This measure is critical to working Michigan families and would help provide relief and stability to those struggling because of this pandemic.”
Peters’ bill is modeled on the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program and would be tailored to help those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. While Congress has provided this type of temporary unemployment benefits in response to disasters, it has not previously done so in response to a public health crisis.
The program will be particularly helpful for those workers who are self-employed or without sufficient work history to qualify for regular unemployment insurance.
Workers who would qualify for assistance under the program include:
Benefits and administrative costs associated with this program would be federally funded through the federal unemployment insurance trust fund. The program would be administered by state unemployment offices.