This article is intended to be informational only. Legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of law to an individual’s specific matter, situation, or circumstances. Legal advice may be given only on the basis of specific facts relayed by a client to an attorney. The MAC goes to great lengths to make sure our information is as accurate, useful, and up-to-date as possible. We recommend, however, that you consult an attorney if you want or need professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, applies to your specific legal situation.
While the new paid sick time law is likely not going to change how you do business, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase on Friday, from $9.25/hour to $9.45/hour. The minimum wage will then increase a little bit each year, culminating in a $12.05 minimum wage by 2030.
The MAC has received a number of calls from our members with questions about Michigan’s new law requiring certain employers to provide paid medical leave time to their employees, and whether they are now required to do so. This article is an attempt to answer some of these questions.
How Did We Get Here?
In September 2018, the Michigan Legislature voted to adopt the Michigan Paid Sick Leave Initiative, a citizen-initiated (through the collection of signatures) ballot proposal that would have appeared on the 2018 General Election ballot had they not adopted it. The Legislature also adopted a new minimum wage law around the same time.
Proponents of the paid sick leave and minimum wage initiatives worried that the legislature passed these initiatives as part of an “adopt and amend” strategy to gut the proposals as written. By passing the initiative, the legislature retained their ability to amend it with a simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote needed to amend initiatives passed at the ballot box.
This turned out to be the case, as the Legislature passed “watered down” versions of both proposals during the “lame duck” session after the 2018 election. On December 14, 2018, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the new Paid Medical Leave Act, which requires covered employers to provide paid sick leave to many of their Michigan-based employees, but at a much lower level than the original ballot initiative.
Does My Practice Need to Comply with the Paid Medical Leave Act?
The new law applies only to “[a]ny person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, corporation, limited liability company, government entity, or other entity that employs 50 or more individuals [Emphasis added].” All employees must be counted to make this determination, not just full-time employees. Thus, the vast majority of chiropractic practices in Michigan will be exempt from the Paid Medical Leave Act.
That Seems Pretty Straightforward. Why the Confusion?
Here’s where some of the confusion comes from: The original proposal would have allowed employees of small businesses (defined as employers with fewer than 10 employees) to accrue and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, while employees of businesses with 10 or more employees were allowed to accrue and use up to 72 hours. These provisions, if allowed to take effect, would affect many more Michigan chiropractic offices than the eventual legislation as amended.
When Does the New Paid Medical Leave Act Take Effect?
The new Act will go into effect on the 91st day after the final adjournment of the 2018 legislative session – March 29, 2019.
On February 13, 2019, state Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) asked Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to issue a formal opinion on whether “adopt and amend” during the same legislative session, as was done by the Michigan Legislature with paid sick leave and the minimum wage ballot proposals, was unconstitutional. Our previous AG, Bill Schuette, ruled it constitutional in December 2018, superseding a conflicting 1964 opinion by former AG Frank Kelley. However, in the wake of Sen. Chang’s request, the Michigan Legislature passed resolutions asking the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. Because of the opinion request of the Supreme Court, in late March Nessel announced that she will not issue an opinion on “adopt and amend” while the matter is still in the courts. On April 3, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the issue, directing interested parties to file legal briefs ahead of oral arguments, scheduled for July 17. The hearing, however, does not guarantee the Supreme Court will issue an opinion.
So, what does this mean for the Paid Medical Leave Act? No one really knows, but it looks like this is still the beginning of the process, and if the Supreme Court does not issue an advisory opinion, litigation will be likely.
The MAC will monitor developments to determine if and how employers’ obligations will be impacted. Stay tuned.