Michigan’s New Paid Medical Leave Act Is About To Become Effective. Are You Ready?

Paid Medical Leave Act in General

The recently enacted Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) requires entities which employ 50 or more individuals to provide paid medical leave for their eligible employees and family members.

Effective Date

March 29, 2019

Affected Employers

Any employer (aside from certain governments) that employs 50 or more individuals is subject to the law, regardless of where those employees work or live. However, even though the employer would be subject to the law, employees whose primary work location is outside of Michigan would not be protected by it.  So if you had 55 employees with 45 working out of state, the law only applies to the 10 working in Michigan.

Eligible Employees

Significantly, eligible employees do not include individuals who are exempt from overtime requirements under the FLSA section 13(a)(1), non-public agency employees covered by CBAs currently in effect, federal or state (or political subdivision) government employees, employees in a job scheduled for 25 weeks or less (and work 25 weeks or less), employees who worked on average less than 25 hours per week during the immediately preceding calendar year, variable hour employees (as defined under Pay or Play), as well as a few other exceptions (including certain employees under the railroad unemployment insurance act, railway labor act, MI employment security act, and improvement opportunity wage act).

Family Members

The definition of family member is broad and includes:

  1. A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild or legal ward, or a child to whom the eligible employee stands in loco parentis.
  2. A biological parent, foster parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent or a legal guardian of an eligible employee or an eligible employee’s spouse or an individual who stood in loco parentis when the eligible employee was a minor child.
  3. An individual to whom the eligible employee is legally married under the laws of any state.
  4. A grandparent.
  5. A grandchild.
  6. A biological, foster, or adopted sibling.

Therefore, if an employee’s brother is ill, the employee is allowed to take leave to care for his/her brother.

Basis of Accrual

The employer can provide paid medical leave on either: (1) an accrual basis (of at least one hour for every 35 hours worked – cannot be less than 40 hours in a benefit year) or (2) can front at least 40 hours of paid leave at the beginning of the benefit year (and can prorate for mid-year hires).

If the accrual basis is used, an employer is not required to allow the employee to accrue more than 1 hour per calendar week and may limit the accrual and use of paid medical leave to 40 hours per benefit year. However, the employer must allow the employee to carryover at least 40 hours of unused accrued paid medical leave from one benefit year to the next.

If the front load option (of at least 40 hours) is used, the employer is not required to allow the eligible employee to carry over any of the paid leave to another benefit year.

For new hires, an employer can require a 90 day waiting period after hire to use any accrued paid leave.

The paid medical leave must be provided at a pay rate equal to the greater of the normal hourly wage / base wage for that eligible employee or the minimum wage rate under the improved workforce opportunity wage act. An employer is not required to include overtime pay, holiday pay, bonuses, commissions, supplemental pay, piece-rate pay, or gratuities in the calculation of an eligible employee’s normal hourly wage or base wage.

Use of Medical Leave

Leave can be used for personal or family health needs, domestic violence and sexual assault (documentation can be required but cannot ask details), missing work due to closed schools (to take care of children) or closed work for public health emergencies, and for issues with regard to communicable diseases. Specifically, paid medical leave is for:

  • The eligible employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of the eligible employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or preventative medical care for the eligible employee.
  • The eligible employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of the eligible employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or preventative medical care for a family member of the eligible employee.
  • If the eligible employee or the eligible employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, the medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability; to obtain services from a victim services organization; to relocate due to domestic violence or sexual assault; to obtain legal services; or to participate in any civil or criminal proceedings related to or resulting from the domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • For closure of the eligible employee’s primary workplace by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; for an eligible employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; or if it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the eligible employee’s or eligible employee’s family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the eligible employee’s or family member’s exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the eligible employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.

Procedural Requirements

Eligible employees must comply with the employer’s usual and customary notice, procedural and documentation requirements for requesting leave; however, the employer must give the employee at least 3 days to provide the documentation. Furthermore, the law has parameters on documentation required for domestic violence or sexual assault. If you require such documentation, you should discuss these parameters with legal counsel.

Additionally, unless the employer has a different written increment policy in an employee handbook or other benefits document, paid leave must be used in 1 hour increments.

Employers who transfer to other divisions, entities or locations but remain employed by the same employer are allowed to retain all accrued paid medical leave. However, if the employee separates from service and is rehired, the accrued paid leave may be lost. There are no requirements to reimburse employees for unused time.

Notice and Document Retention

You are required to display a poster at your place of business, in a conspicuous and accessible place, containing the amount of paid leave required, the terms under which the paid medical leave may be used, and the employee’s right to file a complaint with the department for any violation. The department will create and make said posters available at no cost.

Finally, PTO records shall be retained for not less than 1 year and are subject to inspection.


For violations of the law, the department may impose penalties and grant an eligible employee or former eligible employee payment of all paid medical leave improperly withheld. Employers failing to provide paid medical leave are also subject to an administrative fine of not more than $1,000.00. Additionally, an administrative fine of not more than $100.00 may be imposed for each separate violation of the posting requirement.

This communication serves solely as a general summary and does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal advice.

Elizabeth H. Latchana, Attorney Fraser TrebilcockElizabeth H. Latchana specializes in employee health and welfare benefits. Recognized for her outstanding legal work, in both 2019 and 2015, Beth was selected as “Lawyer of the Year” in Lansing for Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law by Best Lawyers, and in 2017 as one of the Top 30 “Women in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Contact her for more information on this reminder or other matters at 517.377.0826 or elatchana@fraserlawfirm.com.

Now is the Time to Consider Appealing Your 2019 Property Taxes

Arriving in a mail box near you is your annual property tax Notice of Assessment. Property taxes are a significant business operating expense and they are typically the second highest expense of homeowners after their mortgage. We routinely assist industrial and commercial property tax appeals for our clients. Our experience practicing before the Michigan Tax Tribunal can help you achieve significant tax savings depending on the circumstances.

Deciding whether to challenge an assessment, business and property owners should consider a variety of factors including current market value of their property, valuation methods used, and practices used by local assessing authorities. Once the decision has been made to appeal, the procedures involved are often technical, complex, and time sensitive. The legal requirements for filing an appeal are usually strictly enforced against the property owner. Experienced legal counsel is invaluable in protecting the taxpayer’s rights.

If you disagree with the valuation on the Notice of Assessment, you can reach out to your local assessor to gain either a better understanding of the factors used. In some communities this process is required as an “assessor’s review.” If you can’t reach an understanding or an agreement with the assessor’s office, the next step is to protest to the Board of Review.

For most industrial and commercial property owners, a protest to the local Board of Review is not a requirement. There are, however, certain types of property tax claims that do require a Board of Review protest, even for industrial and commercial property owners. Although it does not happen often, there are instances where a taxpayer protests an assessment and the Board is made aware of something, typically a factual matter, that provides some relief. Other times, the assessor may notice a discrepancy on closer examination that may actually cause the assessment to increase.

If the Board of Review denies your protest, you can always proceed to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. The Michigan Tax Tribunal is an administrative tax court that has authority over assessment disputes relating to both property and non-property tax matters. While most property tax reductions are obtained through the process of negotiation, on occasion, however, formal hearings or court action are necessary to achieve the desired result.

Procedural matters in the Tax Tribunal is perhaps where many property owners go wrong. While the Tax Tribunal is not a court in the formal sense, many taxpayers fail to appreciate that the Tribunal nevertheless has its own procedures, formalities, and timelines. For a number of reasons, the Tax Tribunal is rather strict in the application of its rules and is rather unforgiving regarding its deadlines. Substantial compliance is an argument one never wants to have to make.

Another area where taxpayers tend to go astray is in appreciating how the Tax Tribunal approaches property tax claims and evaluating evidence. Property owners have a sense of what their property is worth, what features, in their subjective knowledge, add and/or detract from its value, and a feel for the local market. A valuation, for property tax purposes, must meet a certain evidentiary threshold, and involves an expert appraiser that comes in and gives an exact value on the property based on a greater number of factors that a property owner in a general sense may not be aware of or able to articulate. The Tax Tribunal looks and evaluates the valuation evidence much the same way.

All of this being said, it is important to consult with professionals, a tax attorney, qualified appraiser and other experts to evaluate if an appeal is in your best interest and to properly guide you through the process. And now is the time to consider this with your Notice of Assessment arriving in the mail soon.

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Paul V. McCord has more than 20 years of tax litigation experience, including serving as a clerk on the U.S. Tax Court and as a judge of the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Paul has represented clients before the IRS, Michigan Department of Treasury, other state revenue departments and local units of government. He can be contacted at 517.377.0861 or pmccord@fraserlawfirm.com.