Supreme Court Yet to Decide Fate of Paid Medical Leave Act and Improved Workforce Opportunity Act. What do Employers Need to do Now?

By:  Claudia D. Orr, Plunkett Cooney

Back in July, I reported on the oral arguments before the Michigan Supreme Court in In re Advisory Opinion on 2018 PA 368 & 369. As you will recall, the court was asked to advise on whether the “adopt and amend” process utilized by the Michigan Legislature with regards to the Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) and the Improved Workforce Opportunity Act was constitutional.

I would have thought that the court would have weighed in by now given it held oral argument during the middle of its summer break.  I can only guess that there will be a strong dissent opinion and perhaps some separate concurrence opinions. Hopefully the Supreme Court will issue an advisory opinion soon.

But, what should employers be doing now that 2019 is coming to an end?  Unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which becomes an issue when an employee indicates his/her need for a leave of absence, the PMLA grants most non-exempt employee who worked, on average, 25 or more hours a week during the immediately preceding calendar year, 40 hours of paid time off that can be used for the purposes identified in the act.

So, this is just a reminder to audit your employees’ hours for 2019.  Some employees who have been treated as full-time may no longer qualify if they took time off under the FMLA, for example.  More importantly, other employees who were thought to be part-time may have worked sufficient hours to become eligible for paid leave under the PMLA. So, run a report and make sure that you are applying the PMLA correctly as you head into 2020. Of course, this might all change when the Supreme Court rules!

P.S., don’t forget that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s new regulations for the white collar exemptions take effect in a couple of weeks as well.  So, in case you are wondering what you can do over the holidays, consider auditing your exempt employees’ salaries to ensure they can still be treated as exempt! Yep, employment law — the gift that keeps on giving!

This article was written by Claudia D. Orr, who is Secretary of the Board of Detroit SHRM, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, and an experienced labor/employment attorney at the Detroit office of Plunkett Cooney (a full service law firm and resource partner of Detroit SHRM) and an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. She can be reached at or at (313) 983-4863. For further information go to:

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