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As 2023 Begins, Michigan Employers Face Continued Uncertainty Regarding Paid Sick Leave


By Jordan M. Small

Michigan employers’ obligations and workers’ rights regarding paid sick leave may soon change significantly if amendments to the state’s Paid Medical Leave Act (“PMLA”) go into effect as scheduled on February 20, 2023. Whether those changes actually come to pass – and whether more employers will need to provide longer medical leave periods –  largely depends on the outcome of pending litigation over how the legislature adopted those amendments. 

Legislative “Adopt and Amend” Approach Under Scrutiny

The PMLA was enacted after the legislature approved a ballot initiative in September 2018 called the Earned Sick Time Act (“ESTA”). The legislature adopted the ESTA and subsequently amended the ESTA in December 2018 by passing the PMLA, which went into effect on March 29, 2019. This strategy, given the name “adopt and amend,” allowed the legislature to amend the ESTA in the same session it passed the law.

Since 2019, the PMLA has governed paid medical leave requirements in Michigan. The PMLA significantly reduced the amount of leave employers needed to provide, the number of employees who would be eligible, and the number of Michigan employers required to provide leave. For example, the PMLA requires eligible employees to accrue paid medical leave at a rate of one hour for every 35 hours worked or be granted a lump sum of 40 hours per year, with a cap on usage at 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. On the other hand, the ESTA gave employees the right to take up to 72 hours of sick leave per year, with either all or 40 hours of the leave paid, depending on the size of the employer. Additionally, while the ESTA applied to nearly all employers, only employers with 50 or more employees are subject to the PMLA requirements. 

On December 13, 2022, the Michigan Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of Mothering Justice v. Nessel. The case reached the Michigan Court of Appeals after a Michigan Court of Claims held that the adopt and amend strategy used by the legislature to pass the PMLA was unconstitutional. If the appellate court upholds the Court of Claims decision, the current PMLA provisions will be replaced with the ESTA as originally adopted by the legislature.

Attorneys for both sides requested that the Court of Appeals issue a decision before February 1, 2023, just three weeks before the stay established by the Court of Claims expires and the leave provisions of the ESTA are scheduled to become effective. Both sides also requested that the court issue a published opinion on the case and that the ruling is given immediate effect.

Whether the provisions of the ESTA take effect or the PMLA provisions remain in place will significantly affect how employers in Michigan deal with paid medical leave going forward. 

Paid Medical Leave Requirements Under ESTA

If the ESTA provisions take effect as scheduled, almost all employees, including part-time and temporary employees not covered under the PMLA, will be eligible for paid sick leave, and most employees will accrue one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. 

Maddin Hauser will continue to monitor changes to Michigan’s paid sick leave requirements as further developments occur in the Court of Appeals and the February 20, 2023, effective date for the ESTA provisions approaches. To ensure you receive the latest updates on paid sick leave in Michigan, click here to subscribe to Maddin Hauser’s Labor and Employment mailing list.

Register for our upcoming webinar on February 6, 2023, to learn more about how and when to comply with shifting statutory requirements.