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‘Wage Theft’ Prevention Bills Dropped

December 12, 2017

House and Senate Democrats’ long-awaited “Prevent Wage Theft” bills were dropped Tuesday in the caucus’ attempt to crack down on independent contracting and restaurants allegedly siphoning off its servers’ tips.

report from the Economic Policy Institute earlier this year found that more than 130,000 Michigan workers across all demographic groups are losing $429 million annually as a result of wage theft. 

“Every person deserves to take home the wages they earn. But across the state, many Michiganders are losing their hard-earned pay to wage theft,” said House Minority Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “For the person who is losing $3,000 or $4,000 a year, that is a make-or-break amount of money and they deserve to get it back. 

“It isn’t a handout and it isn’t a credit — it is money owed to them, that they earned honestly and were denied. While Republicans in Lansing and Washington, D.C. are focused on giving handouts to the top 1 percent, Michigan Democrats are putting working families first with a plan to put more money back in hands of Michigan families.” 

The five-bill package (HB 5326, HB 5327, HB 5328, HB 5329 and HB 5330) seeks to address the varying forms wage theft can take, including things like failure of an employer to pay overtime, offering a “training wage” to young employees, tip confiscation or failure to distribute pay stubs. 

The bills step up fines on companies found by state administrators at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to have committed “wage theft.” 

Tony Stamas of the Small Business Association of Michigan told MIRS six weeks ago that he saw it as “implausible that this percentage of employers are engaging in this practice. We see small businesses that are working with their employees. Right now, they are working to bring in talent in a tight labor market, and in many cases it is a family setting,” Stamas said.  

“Certainly, if there are bad actors, they should be treated as such, but making a complex system for a lot of small businesses that don’t have a human resources (HR) department and making it more complex, we don’t think is the solution.” 

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