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Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act – A Year Out

January 30, 2020

Author: Jeffrey C. Hart

Re: Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act (MPMLA), MCL 408.961, et seq., effective March 29, 2019. 

Nearly one year ago, the MPMLA made Michigan the eleventh state to enact mandatory sick leave pay for employees. In Michigan, employers must (as of March 29, 2019) allow employees to accrue up to 1 hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The act further requires that an employer shall allow an eligible employee to use up to 40 hours of sick leave per 12-month period of eligibility. In addition, an employee may carryover (or bank) up to 40 hours of unused sick pay under the new law. 

As an alternative to the above, an employer may provide at least 40 hours of paid medical leave to an eligible employee at the beginning of a benefit year. There is a rebuttable presumption that an employer is in compliance with this act if the employer provides at least 40 hours of paid leave to an eligible employee each benefit year. This includes paid vacation leave (vacation) or paid time off (PTO). 

Now seems an appropriate time for employers, particularly small businesses, to ensure they interpreted the requirements correctly and are currently in compliance. 

Who’s included?
Any employer of 50 or more employees. It matters not whether the employees are located within the State of Michigan or outside the State of Michigan – 50 is the aggregate magic number. 

Any eligible employee from whom the employer is required to withhold for federal income tax purposes. 

Who’s excluded?
The new law provides for 12 exclusions. The major exclusions are:

  • Employees who worked, on average, fewer than 25 hours per week during the preceding calendar year
  • Employees subject to a collective bargaining agreement
  • Employees exempt from overtime requirements under section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USC 213
  • Variable-hour employees as defined by 26 CFR 54.4980H-1
  • Employees of the United States and state and local governments or divisions thereof
  • Employees whose primary work is performed outside of the State of Michigan. 

Additional requirements and penalties imposed on the employer
The new law requires the employer to allow for paid medical leave for any of the following reasons:

  • Eligible employees’ physical or mental health or injury
  • Eligible employees’ family members’ physical or mental health or injury
  • Eligible employee or family members being the victim of domestic violence, medical or mental care and treatment for same, and court appearances for same. 

Employer must display a poster of the requirements of the Act in a conspicuous place where employees can see and read the posting. A free poster is available through the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Employment Relations. Failure to post will subject employer to a $100 administrative fine. 

Employer must keep track of the accrual of paid medical leave hours and use of the hours for not less than one year and such records shall be open to inspection by the Wage and Hour Division at any reasonable time. 

Violations of the act subject employers to a $1,000 fine for failure to provide paid medical leave and further subject the employer to “administrative penalties” and may provide “eligible employee or former employee payment of all paid medical leave improperly withheld.” 

Note: With the new act’s contemplation of fines for minimal compliance failures and various infractions, litigation will necessarily follow. Please contact Jeffrey Hart to review your current employee handbook to ensure your company’s compliance.

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