What we know: Judge rules $12 min. wage and paid sick leave laws be reinstated

Needed Action by MRA Members: None.

What we know

Yesterday afternoon, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled that the legislature’s “adopt and amend” strategy on the 2018 minimum wage and paid sick leave ballot proposals was unconstitutional. The decision found that the subsequent revised laws passed in December 2018 were invalid and the original ballot proposals that were adopted in September 2018 must stand. The Judge also ruled that the Legislature does not have standing to appeal this decision.

The Attorney General’s office, representing the state/legislature will be filing a request for a “stay” (or pause) the decision from Judge Shapiro. If that request is denied, they will request one from the Court of Appeals. The AG’s office will then file a formal appeal to the Court of Appeals on the Court of Claims decision. (If you saw the statement in support of this ruling from AG Nessel, know that even when in conflict, the AG’s office must defend state laws and has a team working to do so despite what the current AG’s political position may be.)

What this means

From conversations with the governor’s office, we know the state is still reviewing the decision and next steps. The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is NOT prepared to begin implementation and enforcement of the original ballot proposal laws immediately. Those conversations are ongoing and MRA has shared there are many concerns with the original laws and how they will impact retailers and small businesses who just survived COVID shutdowns and are now battling workforce challenges, high inflation, and supply chain issues. We’ve also made our request for clarity and adequate implementation periods for employers if the laws are changed back to the much more aggressive, original proposals.

For now, nothing has changed from an implementation or enforcement standpoint. MRA continues to carefully monitor the situation and will keep members advised to any changes.

What could change

Minimum wage: The original 2018 ballot proposal sought to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2022 (the amended law slowed that down to 2030). It also included an inflationary increase each year after $12 was reached (which is extremely alarming given our current record inflation levels). The proposal also eliminated the tipped wage for service employees.

Paid sick leave: The original 2018 ballot proposal covered all non-federal employees, including part-time and seasonal employees (the amended law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees and did not cover seasonal workers, part-time workers and variable hour workers). It requires employers grant employees one hour paid leave for every 30 hours of work up to 72 hours annually (40 hours for “small businesses” with fewer than 10 employees). It allowed employees to use time to care for family members or those they have a family-like affinity with. Prohibits the employer from disciplining an employee for using three consecutive days – aka, a no call, no show – for three days is permissible and could not be fired. The burden of proof of compliance with the law is on the employer and the state can take aggressive civil actions against employers. Also includes recordkeeping requirements for three years. In total, if reinstated, it would be the most aggressive and onerous paid leave law in the country, stricter even than California’s law.