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On December 5, 2018, Michigan lawmakers presented a bill to the governor’s desk to roll back paid sick leave requirements that were set to go into effect next year. Although opponents challenge the move as unconstitutional, Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the scaled-back bill into law. If he does, the new law will take effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn the 2018 session, sometime in March 2019.

Significantly, this is the first version of a sick leave bill approved by Republican lawmakers. A previous version of the law, authored by activist proponents of paid sick leave, was set to go before voters in the November election by ballot initiative. But GOP lawmakers bypassed the process by adopting the ballot measure and pulling its teeth. For example, lawmakers removed the ability of aggrieved employees to bring a civil action, scaled back the limitations period to six months, limited recovery to backpay, and capped administrative fines to not more than $1,000, and $100 for each separate willful violation.

Here in Minnesota, divided government may serve as a stumbling block to the DFL’s efforts to pass a paid sick leave bill. But if Republicans in the state Senate can get on board with any sick leave bill—a long shot, to be sure—it might look close to the Michigan version passed. Accordingly, this might be a preview of what’s to come in Minnesota.

Highlights include:

  • Covered Employees. The law excludes a number of categories and does not cover employees who are:
    • Exempt from federal overtime requirements;
    • Subject to a collective bargaining agreement;
    • Employed in certain airline and railway roles;
    • Assigned to a “primary work location” out of state;
    • Hired for a temporary position not to exceed 25 weeks, and who do not work more than 25 weeks; or
    • Part-time, so long as they worked, on average, fewer than 25 hours per week during the immediately preceding calendar year.
  • Covered Employers. Only employers with more than 50 employees are covered by the new law.
  • Earning Paid Sick Leave. Eligible employees must accrue one hour of paid leave for every 35 hours worked, except that an employer may limit accrual to one hour in a calendar week. Employers may cap annual accrual, use, and carry over to 40 hours.
    • Alternatively, employers may grant employees a lump sum of 40 hours at the beginning of each benefit year. This has the advantage of creating a “rebuttable presumption” that the employer is in compliance with the law.
  • Timing. An employee begins to accrue paid sick leave on the effective date of the law, or upon commencement of employment, whichever is later. Employees may use accrued sick leave 90 days after commencement of employment. The law presumes that employees will use one-hour increments, unless otherwise stated in writing.
  • Rate of Pay. An employee must receive paid leave at a rate equal to the greater of his or her normal hourly wage or base wage, excluding overtime pay, holiday pay, bonuses, commissions, supplemental pay, piece-rate pay, or gratuities.
  • Purpose for Use. An employee may use paid sick leave for the following purposes:
    • For the employee’s own or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, health condition or preventative medical care.
    • For certain purposes if the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
    • If the employee’s workplace is closed due to a public health emergency.
    • If the employee’s child’s school or childcare center is closed by an order of a public official or due to a public health emergency.
    • If the employee’s or a family member’s healthcare provider, or a health authority has determined that the individual’s presence in the community would jeopardize others due to a communicable disease.
  • Attendance. An employee shall comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice, procedural, and documentation requirements when requesting leave. However, an employer must provide at least three days for an employee to provide documentation. Certain requirements apply if the documentation pertains to leave for domestic violence or sexual assault or is otherwise confidential.
  • Recordkeeping. Employers must retain records for one year.

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