July 5, 2020

Volume X, Number 187

July 03, 2020

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Michigan Legislature Approves Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Initiatives

On September 5, 2018, the Michigan legislature voted to pass two ballot initiatives: the Michigan One Fair Wage that would gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $12 an hour and eliminate the tipped minimum wage, and Michigan Time To Care, which would mandate that employers allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Currently, Michigan's hourly minimum wage is $9.25. The new law would gradually raise the state's minimum wage from $9.25 per hour to $10 in 2019, $10.65 in 2020, $11.35 in 2021 and $12 in 2022, with yearly inflationary adjustments afterward. It would also increase the tipped minimum wage from the current $3.52 per hour to $12 per hour by 2024. The paid sick leave law would require that workers earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees at businesses with at least 10 workers could use up to 72 hours of paid leave a year, unless an employer selects a higher limit. Those working for smaller employers could use up to 40 hours of paid time and another 32 hours of unpaid leave.

The passage of these initiatives is controversial because state lawmakers have indicated their intention to approve the proposals and then amend them following the election. Both issues had been approved for the upcoming November 6 ballot. However, by passing the initiatives prior to the election, they are no longer on the ballot and any amendments would require a simple legislative majority to amend. If Michigan citizens had voted in favor of the measures on the November ballot, it would have then required a three-quarters majority vote to approve any amendments. The actions by the legislature have been referred to as an "adopt and amend" strategy. Some groups have claimed that such actions are unconstitutional and have threatened legal action.

Barring any changes, the new laws will go into effect in March 2019.

© 2020 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 249


About this Author

Elizabeth Wells Skaggs, labor and employment attorney, Varnum

Beth is a partner in the labor and employment practice group, focusing employment issues and litigation. She has counseled business clients on a variety of matters affecting the workplace, including effective employee handbooks and policies, disciplinary and dispute resolution procedures, discrimination issues, disability accommodation, wage-hour matters, family medical leave, harassment prevention and litigation avoidance.  When litigation is unavoidable, Beth has significant experience representing employers under the numerous state and federal statutes that govern the...

Bethany Sweeny, Varnum Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Bethany is a member of Varnum’s Labor and Employment Team. She focuses her practice on employment litigation involving claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination, as well as FMLA, wage and hour and whistleblower claims. She also advises employers on a wide range of employment-related issues, including employee handbooks and employment policies, independent contractor agreements, disciplinary matters, discrimination and harassment issues, disability accommodation and litigation avoidance. Bethany works with clients in diverse industries including automotive, manufacturing, retail, computer gaming, and health care, as well as multiple nonprofit organizations. She has practiced extensively in both state and federal courts, as well as before various administrative agencies.

Before entering the private practice of law, Bethany had an extensive career in higher education, working for both the University of Michigan and Yale University in a variety of capacities. She has advised higher education clients on a variety of student and faculty issues including breach of contract, due process violations, FERPA, the Clery Act, discrimination, and disability accommodation.