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Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act Affects Agricultural Employers

April 1, 2019
Agriculture Advisory

Workers picking radishes in a fieldAll Michigan employers, including agricultural employers, who employ 50 or more individuals must comply with the new Paid Medical Leave Act effective March 29, 2019. The new law includes many vague and ambiguous provisions leaving employers confused about how to comply with its requirements. We have reviewed the law and discussed the vague requirements with Michigan Wage and Hour Division and can provide the following guidance at this point. We have also uploaded a new disclosure document (Migrant, Seasonal and Agricultural Employment Document Packet) to the Michigan Agricultural Employment Compliance Guide that includes a Paid Medical Leave Act policy in the "other information" section. Unless you are an employer not subject to the Paid Medical Leave Act, you should include this policy, or a policy customized for your business, in your disclosure even if some of your workers may not be eligible for benefits.

  • Employers with more than 50 workers are covered under the Paid Medical Leave Act.
  • H-2A visa workers are not eligible for paid medical leave. H-2A workers are included in the count to determine if employer is covered because they employ 50 or more workers.
  • Employers must provide paid medical leave to employees who work an average of at least 25 hours per week in positions expected to last more than 25 weeks.
  • Employees accrue one hour of paid medical leave for every 35 hours worked, with a maximum of one hour per week and forty hours per benefit year.
  • Current employees who worked less than 25 hours per week in the prior year are not eligible for paid medical leave. Wage and Hour has stated that calculation must use actual weeks worked to determine exemption, not 52 weeks.
  • Employers may require new employees to wait to use paid medical leave until after they have worked 90 days.
  • There is a misunderstanding that if workers are exempt from overtime they are not eligible for paid medical leave. This is incorrect. There is a specific exemption for employees who are exempt from overtime such as executive and administrative staff. There is not an exemption for employees exempt from overtime under the agricultural exemption.
  • There are other limited exemptions under the Act.
  • Employers can choose to accrue paid medical leave for workers or can provide 40 hours of leave up front.

Also remember that Michigan minimum wage increased on March 29, 2019 to $9.45/hour.

If you have any questions about the Paid Medical Leave Act or other employment matters affecting agricultural employers, please contact Kim Clarke at kaclarke@varnumlaw.com or 616/336-6441, or Kristiana Coutu at kmcoutu@varnumlaw.com or 269/553-3547.

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