Legislative Democrats are preparing to introduce a package of bills that will restore lost income, fees and penalties to people falsely accused of unemployment fraud, improve the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency and hold accountable employers who fail to pay into the state’s unemployment fund. The legislation comes after revelations that the state made roughly 50,000 false accusations of unemployment fraud against 40,000 Michigan workers. Of those, 93 percent have been found to be false so far. The UIA also leaked personal information, including Social Security numbers, of nearly 2 million people.
Workers who are out of a job, and their families, have suffered mightily as a result of these false accusations. Many had their savings accounts wiped out, garnishments placed on their current wages, and their tax returns seized to pay back penalties and what the state claimed they owed. Others were even forced into bankruptcy. To make matters even worse, some employers evaded paying into the system and faced limited consequences for their actions. The system is broken, and instead of fixing it, legislative Republicans have been more interested in removing unemployment protections.
House and Senate Democrats have a plan to fix the unemployment system so that workers get the help they need while they look for new jobs. Our plan would:
- Assist Workers Harmed by False Fraud Allegations and Data Breaches: Reimburse lost benefits, fees, penalties, legal fees, late fees and other expenses. Require state departments that compromised citizens’ personal information to help victims of identity theft.
- Fix the Unemployment Insurance Agency: Restore the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks and increase other benefits. Reduce fraud penalties to a maximum of 100 percent.
- Hold Employers Accountable: Increase the penalty to employers that are more than 30 days late with unemployment tax payments by 100 percent.