School districts must contest with two new Michigan laws governing paid leave and minimum wage beginning in March, 2019. The Michigan legislature recently enacted the “Earned Sick Time Act” and the “Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act” – school districts must ensure compliance with these laws to avoid lawsuits or investigations by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”). In effect, the laws expand the rights of public school employees in Michigan.
First, the “Earned Sick Time Act”, 2018 PA 338, requires that workers earn one (1) hour of paid leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. However, employees at businesses with at least ten workers can only use up to seventy-two (72) hours of paid leave a year. Human Resource managers must ensure district-wide compliance as employees have a right to file a complaint with LARA for retaliation by a District for exercising rights under the Act. Furthermore, employees can also file a lawsuit which will cause the District to incur legal expenses and, if found liable, a monetary judgment.
Second, the “Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act”, 2018 PA 337, raises the minimum wage in Michigan to $12 per hour gradually by 2022. School districts should ensure Human Resource and Payroll managers are fully aware of these requirements. In the event of a dispute, an employee must file a complaint with LARA’s Wage and Hour Division within twelve months of the alleged violation. In short, school district administrators must ensure there is an annual compliance review relevant to the new statutory requirements for the minimum wage. This can be accomplished by conducting an internal audit, external audit, and compliance training.