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What Michigan’s New Paid Medical Leave Act Means for Employers

May 16, 2019

Since Michigan’s new Paid Medical Leave Act went into effect on March 29, 2019, most employers with at least 50 employees are now required to provide up to 40 hours of paid time off for eligible employees each year.

Which Employers and Employees are Exempt from the New Law?

Certain employers are exempt from the law, including those employing fewer than 50 people.

On the flip side, employees are not covered under this new provision if they are:

  • Exempt from overtime under the “white collar” exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Employed at a primary work site outside Michigan.
  • Seasonal employees.
  • Part time employees.
  • Union members covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

What Qualifies as a Paid Medical Leave Event?

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 40 hours of paid time off or leave for any of the following reasons:

  • Mental or physical illness.
  • A family member’s mental or physical illness.
  • Medical care counseling, relocation or participation in criminal or civil proceedings related to domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • Closure of the employee’s place of work or child’s school/place of care due to a public health emergency.
  • Exposure to a communicable disease.

Employers can request reasonable notice of a medical leave event and documentation (within three days) in accordance with the employer’s leave policy. Doctor’s notes are not advisable documentation due to concerns regarding HIPAA compliance.

How is Paid Leave Provided?

There are three ways employers can satisfy the act’s paid-time-off requirement:

  1. Accrual Method – Eligible employees must accrue paid leave at a rate of at least one (1) hour for every 35 hours worked or one (1) hour per week.
    1. Maximum Paid Leave: 40 Hours per benefit year.
    2. Carry-Over Hours: Employers must allow employees to carry over not more than 40 hours from one benefit year to another.
  2. Up-Front Method – Employers can grant eligible employees at least 40 hours of paid leave at the beginning of each benefit year.
    1. Minimum Paid Leave: 40 Hours per benefit year.
    2. Carry-Over Hours: Employers are not required to allow eligible employees to carry over any unused hours into the next year.
  3. Paid Leave Method – Employers provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave inclusive of vacation days, personal days, sick days and other paid time off (PTO) per benefit year.
    1. There is a “rebuttable presumption” that the employer who chooses this option is in compliance with the Act. However, a “rebuttable presumption” is not a guarantee of compliance, and no regulations have yet been provided.
    2. It seems that employers using this method won’t be required to segregate paid sick time from paid vacation or other paid time off.

What are the Basics of Employer Compliance?

In order to be compliant with the new law, Michigan employers are required to:

  • Display a poster about the employee’s rights under the Act.
  • Retain all records documenting the hours worked and paid medical leave taken by employees for at least one (1) year.
  • Begin PTO accrual from the employee’s start date.

Note that the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act is separate from and in addition to employer obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Michigan Persons with Disabilities Act.

Please check with your employment and business lawyer to determine if your company needs to modify its existing paid time off policies to comply with the new Act. This article does not represent legal advice and is intended as a general overview providing only some of the new law’s components. For complete, detailed information, be sure to visit: Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act 338 of 2018

For more information, contact:
Marc Lasceski
Senior Consultant and Business Development

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