By: Sandy Kaminski, HR Maxim
On September 5, 2018, Michigan became the 11th state to enact a mandatory paid sick leave law - the Earned Sick Time Act. This Act requires employers to provide employees with earned sick time. On December 12, 2018, the Act was amended and is now known as the Paid Medical Leave Act.
What does this mean for Michigan employers? Well - that depends. If you have 50 or more employees, keep reading because you are a covered employer under the Act. If you have less than 50 employees, you are not a covered employer under the Act but should still keep reading because you are an inquiring mind that wants to know about the Act!
Covered Employers. The Act applies to employers with 50 or more employees and defines "eligible employees" to include individuals engaged in service to an employer in the business of the employer and from whom the employer is required to withhold for federal income tax purposes. However, there are many eligible exceptions.
- Exempt employees;
- Private employees covered by an effective collective bargaining agreement;
- Certain employees covered by federal railway labor and railroad unemployment insurance laws;
- Employees whose primary work location is not in Michigan;
- Employees who work fewer than 25 weeks in a calendar year for a job scheduled for 25 weeks or fewer;
- Variable-hour employees; and
- Employees who work, on average, fewer than 25 hours per week during the immediately preceding calendar year.
Accrual and carryover of leave. Leave accrues at the rate of 1 hour of paid medical leave for every 35 hours worked. Employers are not required to allow accrual of more than 1 hour of leave per calendar week. Employers may limit accrual, use, and carryover of paid leave to 40 hours per benefit year.
As a covered employer, you can opt to front-load leave by providing at least 40 hours of paid medical leave to eligible employees at the beginning of the benefit year. For new hires, you can prorate the front-load. Additionally, front-loaded leave is not required to be carried over to the following benefit year.
Leave begins to accrue on the later of the effective date of the law, which was March 29, 2019, or upon hire. Employers can require new hires to wait 90 days until using accrued leave.
Existing leave policies. The law indicates minimum requirements and odes not supersede and other law or policy that provides more generous leave rights. Meaning, if an employer adopts their own leave policy that provides more generous leave accrual, use, and carryover - carry on as usual! There is no need to offer additional paid sick leave.
Use of leave. What can employees use paid medical leave for?
- For absences resulting from an employee's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; to accommodate the employee's need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or an employee's need for preventive medical care;
- To allow an employee to provide care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or care for a family member who needs preventative medical care;
- For absences related to domestic violence or sexual assault of the employee or the employee's family member, including, but not limited to, medical or psychological care or counseling, victim services, legal services, relocation, and participation in civil or criminal proceedings related to the incident;
- For meetings at a child's school or place of care related to the child's health, disability, or effective of domestic violence or sexual assault on the child; and
- When the employee's place of business has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related or when an employee's child's school or place of care has been closed for a health-related reason.
Leave must be utilized in 1-hour increments unless the employer has a different policy that is in writing in an employee handbook or other benefits document.
Family members. Family members include:
- A biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, or legal ward or a child to whom the employee stand in logo parentis;
- A biological parent, foster parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian of the employee or the employee's spouse or a person who stood in logo parentis when the employee was a minor child
- Spouses; and
- Grandparents, grandchild, and biological, foster, or adopted siblings.
Notice and verification of leave. Employers may require employees to comply with the employer's usual notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave. Employees must be given at least 3 days to provide required documentation.
Employers may require reasonable documentation relative to leave taken for purposes related to domestic violence or sexual assault; however, the employer may not require that this documentation explain the details of the violence. Any health information or information pertaining to domestic violence or sexual assault must be treated as confidential.
Employers are not prohibited from applying standard discipline or discharge to employees who fail to company with the usual notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave.
Payout on termination. Employers are not required to pay unused, accrued paid medical leave to employees upon termination.
Notice and record keeping requirements. Employers must display a poster in a conspicuous place accessible to eligible employees detailing the amount of leave to be provided, terms under which leave may be used, and employees' rights to file complaints for violations of the Act.
Employers must maintain records documenting employees' hours worked and earned sick time taken for at least 1 year.
If you need help with Paid Medical Leave Act compliance - Call HR Maxim at 586.842.3777 or email.