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Gov. Whitmer Encourages Businesses to Enroll in Back-to-Work Incentive, Asks Legislature to Expand Program to Get More Michiganders Back into Workforce

June 16, 2021 



Governor Gretchen Whitmer today asked the legislature to expand Michigan's Back-to-Work Incentive, which builds off of the state's Work Share program, to give eligible laid off employees a $300 per week bonus for returning to the workforce through September 4, 2021. The state is using the federal $300 per week in unemployment benefits to incentivize people to go back to work, maximize families' income, and help employers fully staff their businesses. The program allows job providers to bring back or keep employees working with minimally reduced hours while they receive partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of the lost wages.  


"Michigan's Back to Work Incentive is a win-win for workers and businesses. It puts more money in the pockets of hardworking families and helps employers fill jobs by incentivizing people to re-enter the workforce," said Governor Whitmer. "Legislative action to expand the incentive means more opportunities for workers and more ways for business to attract and retain new and returning employees.  As we continue putting Michigan back to work, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that Michigan families and small businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before." 

While this boost is available to workers receiving benefits who were brought back by an employer participating in the program, Governor Gretchen Whitmer today is asking the legislature for an expansion to allow employers to hire new employees via this incentive to provide more options for workers to get back to work. The legislature previously approved this expansion in the fall, but allowed it to expire in March. 

"Expanding the incentive would allow Michigan to take advantage of even more federal dollars flowing into our state to support local businesses and grow our economy," said Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Susan Corbin. "The program offers employers of all shapes and sizes the flexibility to address their specific business needs and an expansion would provide even greater work schedule flexibility for everyone as we work to defeat COVID-19 together." 

Governor Whitmer signed an executive order last year to offer employers greater flexibility as they restarted their business and brought employees back from unemployment by allowing most employers to qualify for the program. Throughout the pandemic, the program has provided over $550 million in benefits, preserved over 110,000 jobs and helped nearly 2,600 employers retain workers and bring them back to the workforce. The program has also saved the state's unemployment trust fund over $90 million. During the peak of enrollment during the pandemic, Michigan's Work Share program led the nation and far outpaced even the combined totals of larger states like New York, Ohio and Texas.   

Since the program is 100% federally financed through September 4, 2021, there will be no impact to the employer's unemployment tax rate and the state unemployment trust fund will also be held harmless.  

 "Governor Whitmer's Back to Work Incentive program will be enormously beneficial for both Michigan workers and local businesses as we work towards normalcy ," said Kevin Stotts, President of Talent 2025. "Small businesses have been resilient throughout the pandemic, and I am grateful to have Governor Whitmer's support for business communities as we emerge from the pandemic stronger than before."  

Michigan's Back to Work Incentive - Work Share - has many options for employers, allowing multiple plans and the option to choose which employees participate in each plan. For more information on Michigan's Work Share, visit: