Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) goes into effect on March 29, 2019. It requires a number of new practices for employers operating in Michigan, including revision of written policies and posting notice to employees. Below are some highlights of the PMLA about which employers in Michigan should be aware:

Who does the law cover?

Employers covered by the PMLA are those that employ 50 or more persons. What is unclear is whether an employer’s employees who work outside of Michigan would count for purposes of determining whether the employer is covered by the PMLA. Unless the sate provides clarity on the question, multi-state employers with more than 50 employees nationwide, but less than 50 employees in Michigan, will need to weigh the risks – those who choose not to comply with the law may find themselves in violation and subject to penalties.

All employees, whether full-time, part-time or temporary, who provide service to a covered employer and for whom the employer is required to withhold federal income taxes are eligible for paid leave under the PMLA, subject to a number of exceptions. For example, the following types of employees are excluded from the requirements of the PMLA:

  • Employees who are considered exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “white collar” exemptions
  • Employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement
  • Employees who primarily work in another state
  • Seasonal employees who are employed by the employer for 25 or fewer weeks in a calendar year for a job scheduled for 25 weeks or fewer

Employers should review the entire list of exemptions to determine which employees are eligible for paid leave under the PMLA.

How much leave do employees receive?

Eligible employees accrue one hour of paid medical leave for every 35 hours worked, up to 40 hours per benefit year. Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused, accrued leave from one benefit year to another. Although carryover is required, employers can cap the use of paid medical leave at 40 hours per benefit year.

In lieu of allowing employees to accrue leave, employers may provide 40 hours of paid medical leave at the beginning of each benefit year. Employers that choose to “frontload” the leave are not required to permit carryover of unused leave into the next benefit year.

Whichever method an employer chooses, employees are not entitled to payout of accrued, unused paid medical leave upon separation of employment.

What are the permissible uses of leave?

Employees may use paid medical leave for:

  1. Care, diagnosis or treatment of the employee or family member’s:
    1. Mental or physical illness
    2. Injury or medical condition
  2. Preventative medical care for the employee or a family member
  3. Certain public health emergencies
  4. To address various effects of domestic violence or sexual assault if the employee or a family member is a victim

Lastly, for purposes of the PMLA, “family member” includes spouses, children, parents, parents of a spouse or domestic partner, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings.

When may employees use leave?

Employees begin to accrue leave on March 29, 2019 – the effective date of the law – and may use the leave as it accrues. Employees hired after March 29, 2019 accrue leave upon commencement of employment. They may use paid medical leave beginning the 90th calendar day of employment. Unless an employer has a written policy stating otherwise, employees may use their leave in one-hour increments.

Are there any notice requirements?

Employees must comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice and documentation requirements used for requesting other types of leave. Employers must give employees at least three days to provide documentation, if required.

Finally, employers must display a poster explaining details of the law, including an eligible employee’s right to file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. A model poster has been published to meet this requirement.

Next steps

Employers in Michigan should review full details of the law with counsel and update policies and handbooks to comply with the PMLA.

Multi-state employers should also be aware of similar paid sick leave laws in Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington.