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Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – July 29, 2022

Bringing you five stories that matter in Michigan this week – July 29, 2022. Legal, legislative, and regulatory updates.

  1. New Laws Phase Out COVID-19 Employer Liability Protections for Employers

Governor Whitmer recently signed three bills into law that initially roll back COVID-19 protections for both employers and employees and then repeal the laws outright on July 1, 2023. For example, one of the laws being repealed granted employers immunity from liability lawsuits if an employee was exposed to COVID-19 at work, provided the employer followed state and federal regulations.

Why it Matters: While these bills signal a continuing shift away from laws and regulations enacted during the onset of the pandemic, employers must keep in mind that they still have obligations to maintain safe working conditions pursuant to OSHA, MIOSHA and other federal, state and local laws and regulations.


  1. Michigan Minimum Wage Increase May be on the Ballot in 2024

Organizers behind the Raise the Wage MI ballot initiative reportedly secured  more than 610,000 signatures and delivered them to Michigan officials in an effort to qualify the proposal for the 2024 ballot. The proposal would raise Michigan’s hourly minimum wage to $15 over the course of five years.

Why it Matters: Last week the Michigan Court of Claims ruled that the state legislature’s adoption and alteration of a 2018 ballot measure that would have raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2022 was unconstitutional. That ruling has been appealed, but even if it gets overturned, Michigan may still see a minimum wage increase if the Raise the Wage MI initiative is passed.


  1. New Proposed Rule on Independent Contractor Classification Sent to White House

Earlier this month, a new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding the classification of workers as independent contractors was sent to the White House for review. The rule is expected to make it harder for employers to classify workers as independent contractors.

Why it Matters: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, “employees” are entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay and other benefits. Independent contractors are not entitled to such benefits, nor must employers withhold taxes or pay the employer portion of social security taxes for independent contractors. Penalties for misclassifying workers as independent contractors can result in fines for employers.


  1. New Michigan Budget Passed for Upcoming Fiscal Year

Governor Whitmer recently signed a $73 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1, 2022. The budget was passed in the legislature with bipartisan support.

Why it Matters:  The budget funds a range of investments meant to support the Michigan economy, including: (i) $55 million to help employers train and upskill their new and existing workforce, (ii) $25 million for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign, (iii) an increase in per-pupil funding to $9,150 per student, and (iv) $55 million for Michigan Reconnect, a program that provides tuition-free paths to higher education or skills training.


  1. New Law Intended to Crack Down on Organized Retail Crime in Michigan

Public Act 174 of 2022 defines the theft of a product with intent to resell in exchange for profit as a racketeering offense in Michigan.

Why it Matters: This bipartisan legislation is intended to combat the increase in retail crime that has affected many retailers in many large cities across the country.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Ed Castellani

Labor & Employment | Aaron Davis