NEW GUIDANCE: FAQs Regarding Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act Published

Paid sick leave is coming to Michigan (at least for employers who employ more than 50 employees) — thanks to the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act. (For an overview of the Paid Medical Leave Act, please see “NEW LAW: Michigan Amends Earned Sick Time Act“)

In anticipation of this new law, LARA (Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) recently published FAQs relating to the Paid Medical Leave Act and also released the new required poster, which covered employers must post in the workplace.

One of the most important questions answered in the FAQs is addressing when the new  Paid Medical Leave Act takes effect.  According to LARA, the new law will take effect on March 29, 2019.

In addition to the foregoing, the FAQs provide some clarification with respect to an employer’s obligations to provide paid sick leave to their employees.  Among the items clarified:

Defining when paid sick leave accrual begins.   

Accrual begins on March 29, 2019,or upon commencement of the employee’s employment, whichever is later.

Defining the paid sick leave benefit year. 

A benefit year is any consecutive 12-month period as defined by the employer.

Defining the paid medical leave benefits available to eligible employees.

Paid medical leave is accrued at a rate of 1 hour for every 35 actual hours worked;however, an employer is not required to allow accrual of over 1 hour in a calendar week or more than 40 hours in a benefit year.

Clarifying whether paid medical leave benefits can be “frontloaded” and whether carryover of frontloaded benefits is required.

An employer may provide at least 40 hours of paid medical leave at the beginning of the benefit year or on the date that the individual becomes eligible during the benefit year on a prorated basis. If paid medical leave benefits are “frontloaded”, then the employers is not required to  permit employees to carry over unused leave to the next benefit year.

Explaining the carryover of paid sick leave.  

Employees can carry over up to 40 hours of unused accrued paid medical leave from one benefit year to the next; however, employers are not required to allow employees to use more than 40 hours in a single benefit year.

Defining the acceptable uses of paid medical leave.

Employees may take paid medical leave for the following reasons:

  • Physical or mental illness, injury, or health condition of the employee or his or her family member
  • Medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of the employee or employee’s family member
  • Preventative care of the employee or his or her family member
  • Closure of the employee’s primary workplace by order of a public official due to a public health emergency
  • The care of his or her child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency
  • The employee’s or his or her family member’s exposure to a communicable disease that would jeopardize the health of others as determined by health authorities or a health care provider

For domestic violence and sexual assault situations, employees may use paid medical leave for the following reasons:

  • Medical care or psychological or other counseling
  • Receiving services from a victim services organization
  • Relocation
  • Obtaining legal services
  • Participation in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from the domestic violence or sexual assault.

Defining “family member” for purposes of paid medical leave.

Family member includes:

  • Biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis
  • Biological parent, foster parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian of an employee
  • Spouse or individual to whom the employee is legally married under the laws of any state
  • Person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Biological, foster, and adopted siblings

It is recommended that all covered employers review the new FAQs before the Paid Medical Leave Act goes into effect .