Michigan Court Reinstitutes Higher Minimum Wage and More Generous Paid Sick Time Laws, Effective Immediately

On July 19, 2022, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled that the “adopt-and-amend” strategy the Michigan Legislature used in 2019 to enact minimum wage and paid sick time laws was unconstitutional. Those laws were regarded as more favorable to businesses, but they amended and substantially differed from the voter-initiated laws the Legislature adopted earlier in the same legislative session. For example, the amended laws reduced the increase of the minimum wage from $12 to $10.10 per hour, lowered the required amount of paid sick time from 72 to 40 hours, exempted employers with fewer than 50 employees, and exempted certain employees, such as executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. Part-time employees who worked an average of fewer than 25 hours per week were also exempted from the paid sick leave law. The laws are known as the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), which the Legislature amended and renamed the Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act (MPMLA), and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (IWOWA), which was amended under the same name.

According to the court, the Michigan Legislature has only three options in response to a proposed law initiated by voters: (a) adopt the initiative as presented, (b) reject the petition, or (c) propose an alternative law. The Michigan constitution does not permit the tactic used by the Legislature to amend the voter-initiated laws which, in the court’s review, “effectively thwarted the intent of the People.” As a result, the laws that have governed Michigan employers since 2019 have been “voided,” and the original voter-initiated laws are effective immediately.

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