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Paid Medical Leave Act and Minimum Wage Increase
On December 13, 2018, Governor Snyder signed into law the Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA), which replaces the Earned Sick Time Act. He also amended the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (IWOWA) to increase the minimum wage from $9.25/hour to $9.45/hour. Both laws take effect on March 29, 2019.
The PMLA covers employers, including school districts, with at least 50 employees. An employee is not eligible for benefits under the PMLA if he/she averages fewer than 25 hours per week in the immediately preceding calendar year or if he/she is employed for fewer than 25 weeks in a calendar year for a job scheduled for 25 weeks or fewer.
Only an employee who is considered “nonexempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act is eligible for paid leave. The PMLA does not apply to “exempt” employees, which includes teachers, administrators, and other salaried employees. Typically, only employees paid on an hourly basis are covered by the PMLA, but individual circumstances may vary.
The PMLA requires employers to provide certain employees with paid sick leave. An eligible employee earns one hour of paid medical leave for every 35 hours worked. The employer, however, can limit accrual to one hour of paid medical leave for each work week. Only hours actually worked result in accrual of paid medical leave, meaning that vacation or personal days do not accrue for paid medical leave.
An employer may not limit an employee’s accrual of paid medical leave to less than 40 hours of paid medical leave during a benefit year (i.e., any 12-month period the employer selects to calculate paid medical leave). An employer may, however, limit an employee’s ability to carry over unused accrued hours of paid medical leave to 40 hours for the next benefit year. Schools must adopt a policy to set the school’s benefit year and to address the limits on paid-leave accrual.
Eligible employees will begin to accrue paid medical leave on March 29, 2019, or on the employee’s start date, whichever is later. Employees may use accrued paid medical leave as soon as it is accrued unless an employer requires (by policy or handbook language) the employee to wait 90 calendar days after beginning employment. Paid medical leave must be used in one-hour increments unless the employer has a different written leave-increment policy that allows eligible employees to take leave in smaller increments.
Before using paid medical leave, an employee must comply with the employer’s “usual and customary” notice, procedure, and documentation requirements for requesting leave. An employer must allow an employee three days to provide any requested documentation supporting the requested leave. These procedures and expectations, along with recordkeeping procedures related to an employee’s accrual and use of paid medical leave should be reflected in policies and handbooks. These records must be retained for at least one year.
Employees may use accrued paid medical leave for any of the following circumstances:
- The eligible employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of the eligible employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or preventative medical care for the eligible employee.
- The eligible employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of the eligible employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or preventative medical care for the eligible employee’s family member.
- If the eligible employee or the eligible employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, the medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability; to obtain services from a victim services organization; to relocate due to domestic violence or sexual assault; to obtain legal services; or to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from the domestic violence or sexual assault.
- For closure of the eligible employee’s primary workplace by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; for an eligible employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed in certain circumstances; or in certain circumstances if the eligible employee or a family member has been exposed to a communicable disease.
As an alternative to complying with these requirements, an employer may instead provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid medical leave at the beginning of each benefit year. For example, if a school employs an eligible employee who works under a collective bargaining agreement that allows at least 40 hours paid medical leave a year, the school does not also have to comply with the PMLA by tracking the employee’s accrual of paid medical leave.
By March 29, 2019 employers must post a visible workplace notice with information about the PMLA. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has produced a sample workplace notice that can be used. It is available online at:
While the statute does not require an employer to implement a PMLA policy we recommend that your school do so to set specific rules and procedures as authorized in the PMLA.
In preparation for the PMLA, school officials must develop a policy outlining the school’s rules and procedures relative to the PMLA and amend employee handbooks as necessary. If collective bargaining agreements, individual contracts, or employee handbooks already allow for sufficient paid leave to satisfy the PMLA, this should be communicated to the eligible employees.