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Ask the HR Expert: Paid Leave

March 4, 2019

Provided by SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Editor’s Note: SBAM is actively working with a coalition of business groups to fend off legal challenges against legislation passed late last year that moderated the negative impact minimum wages and paid leave time policy changes would have on small businesses. We will keep you updated on any developments that impact your business.

Question: With Michigan’s new Paid Medical Leave Act effective March 29th, all organizations with 50 or more employees must offer at least 40 hours of paid medical leave each year.  Must an employer provide additional paid medical leave if it already provides paid leave to employees? 

Answer: There is a rebuttable presumption (it will be assumed) that an employer is in compliance with the Paid Medical Leave Act if the employer provides at least 40 hours of paid leave to an eligible employee each benefit year, including paid vacation days, paid personal days, and other paid time off.  Separate banks (sick bank, vacation bank, etc.) can be combined to meet this obligation for calculation purposes.  The employer does not have to provide the paid leave in the beginning of the year.

 However, over the 12-month benefit period (as long as the eligible employee has access to the accrued time over the benefit year) it accrues in the time frame and in the amount required by the law. The law is not requiring employers to change to a Paid Time Off (PTO) system to be in compliance, though it may be easier administratively for employers who are using a variety of time off banks to combine them into one PTO bank.  If employers are keeping separate time off banks and are using the combined totals to meet the requirements of the law, a best practice recommendation is to update the employer’s policy verbiage to indicate time off banks such as vacation, personal time, etc. should be used for sick leave. Information rebutting this presumption is yet to be determined (likely by the courts).    

For additional questions regarding Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act, please visit ASE’s FAQ’s page.

Do you have an HR-related question?  Submit your question here for an opportunity to have it featured on an upcoming Ask the HR Expert edition. SBAM Premium & VIP members can receive FREE assistance from ASE using SBAM’s Ask An Expert portal.

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