Download audioUnemployment Insurance to Help the Employed?

We all wish the world was a kinder, gentler place. But should people be allowed to collect unemployment insurance when they take voluntary leave from work? That's what may happen if the state of Michigan goes along with President Clinton's plan to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act beyond its original intent.

The president wants to use unemployment compensation—money employers set aside for workers who lose their jobs—and use it to turn the Family and Medical Leave Act into the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

Congress never would have passed unpaid family and medical leave if it had known the administration would wait a few years and try to make it into paid leave through the regulatory back door. But the Labor Department is now telling the states they can begin to do just that—and with unemployment funding to boot.

Michigan's unemployment compensation system isn't for people with jobs. It's a limited fund. Even in good times, it pays out more than $1 billion per year. What would happen to the fund if it had to pay for everyone that wants to take child-care leave, and the economy took a drastic downturn?

Michigan lawmakers should resist the administration's effort to misuse our insurance fund against economic hard times.

For the Mackinac Center, I'm Catherine Martin.