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Recent Changes to Michigan's Paid Medical Leave Requirements

On December 14, 2018, Governor Snyder signed into law the Paid Medical Leave Act ("PMLA"), which requires certain Michigan employers to provide paid medical leave to eligible employees.

The PMLA will become effective at the end of March 2019. The PMLA made substantial changes to the Earned Sick Time Act ("ESTA"), which was enacted in September 2018. The PMLA requirements are less onerous on employers than the requirements of the ESTA.

Some of the major provisions of the PMLA are summarized below.

  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the PMLA.
  • The PMLA provides that an eligible employee must accrue paid medical leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 35 hours worked. Previously, the ESTA provided that employees would accrue one hour of paid medical leave for every 30 hours worked.
    • As an alternative, an employer may comply with the PMLA by using a "frontloading" approach. Under this approach, the employer may provide at least 40 hours of paid medical leave to eligible employees at the beginning of each benefit year. For eligible employees hired during a benefit year, an employer may prorate paid medical leave. If an employer elects to provide paid medical leave to an eligible employee using this approach, the employer may prohibit an eligible employee from carrying over paid medical leave from one benefit year to the next benefit year.
  • An employer may limit an eligible employee's accrual of paid medical leave to 40 hours per benefit year (reduced from 72 hours under the ESTA). An employer may prohibit an eligible employee from carrying over more than 40 hours of unused paid medical leave from one benefit year to another benefit year, and an employer may prohibit an eligible employee from using more than 40 hours of paid medical leave in a single benefit year.
  • The PMLA narrowed the scope of individuals who are eligible to accrue paid medical leave by excluding certain categories of individuals from the definition of an "eligible employee." Those exclusions include the following:
    • individuals who worked, on average, fewer than 25 hours per week during the immediately preceding calendar year;
    • individuals who are considered to be variable hour employees under federal tax regulations;
    • individuals whose primary work location is not in Michigan;
    • seasonal employees who are employed by an employer for 25 weeks or fewer in a calendar year for a job scheduled for 25 weeks or fewer;
    • individuals who are exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act;
    • private sector employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement; and
    • certain temporary help firm employees who are disqualified from receiving benefits under the Michigan Employment Security Act.
  • Eligible employees must begin to accrue paid medical leave on the later of (1) the effective date of the PMLA; or (2) the commencement date of the employee's employment. However, an employer may require an employee to wait until the 90th day after commencing employment before using accrued paid medical leave.
  • Accrued paid medical leave must be paid at the employee's normal hourly rate of pay or base wage. An employer is not required to include overtime pay, holiday pay, bonuses, commissions, supplemental pay, piece-rate pay, or gratuities in the calculation of an eligible employee’s normal hourly wage or base wage.
  • The PMLA provides that an eligible employee must, when requesting to use paid medical leave, comply with his or her employer’s usual and customary notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave. An employer must give an eligible employee at least 3 days to provide the employer with documentation. The PMLA does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or discharging an eligible employee for failing to comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave
  • Paid medical leave may be used in one hour increments, unless the employer has a different policy concerning incremental leave usage and the policy is in writing in an employee handbook or other employee benefits document.
  • An employer that is subject to the PMLA must display a poster in a conspicuous place at its place of business that contains certain information regarding employees' rights under the PMLA.

If you have any questions regarding the PMLA, please contact Mindi Johnson, Julie Hamlet, or another member of our employee benefits practice group.

Categories: Employee Benefits, Employee Handbook

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With a business-minded approach, and service-oriented delivery, Mindi helps clients navigate challenges and solve problems in the areas of employee benefits law and health care law. Mindi has spoken and written extensively on employee benefits, health care reform, and health care law topics, and is actively involved in a number of legal, professional and industry organizations focused on these issues.

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