Legislation to Incentivize the Return to Work Introduced in the US House

June 4, 2020

Legislation was introduced in Congress earlier this week to addresses many of the key concerns raised by the employer community as it relates to expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits authorized under the federal CARES Act. 

Under the CARES Act, Congress provided $600 per week in supplemental UI benefits.  These benefits are available in addition to regular state UI benefits and were offered to provide economic relief for workers who lost their jobs or have been unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As states like Michigan begin to reopen, we have heard from many members that these expanded UI benefits has presented serious challenges as it relates to recalling workers, especially employers in the Paycheck Protection Program. Because workers in Michigan are now eligible for up to $962 per week in state and federal UI benefits, some workers are receiving more on unemployment than their paycheck, creating a disincentive to work. 

The “Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2020” was introduced by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.  It would:

  • Allow workers to be paid up to two weeks of the supplemental federal unemployment benefits after accepting a job.  These payments would be comparable to a $1,200 hiring bonus. The bonus would be available to claimants beginning a week after the date of enactment and ending July 31, 2020. 
  • Allow return to work reporting.  The bill would ensure employers can report job refusals and that states provide clear notice to Ut claimants about return to work obligations and good cause exceptions. 
  • Provide relief for non-profits. The CARES Act provided partial relief for reimbursable employers, including non-profits. Non-profits provide critical supports to low-income families and many are facing challenges reopening. This clarifies that non-profits do not have to pay the full amount and wait for reimbursement. Instead, states can reduce the amount owed up-front. 

Although it is unclear whether this bill will be allowed to move forward, we are hopeful that it will be considered at Congress and the President begin negotiations on the next UI bill.  This will likely happen as we get closer to the time the extra $600 is set to expire (July 31, 2020).  The Michigan Chamber will be voicing its support for this legislation with Michigan’s Congressional delegation.

Please contact Wendy Block with any questions at wblock@michamber.com.