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 20 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:
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 April 1, 2019, employers must give new employees notice of the employer’s PMLA policies, including: the amount of paid medical leave required to be provided to an employee, the terms under which paid medical leave may be used, and the eligible employee’s right to file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for an alleged violation of the PMLA. Employers must also post a visible workplace notice with information about 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.