The Michigan Earned Sick Time Law Simplified

If you are a Michigan employer you should have heard about the new sick time laws passed by the Michigan Legislature on Sept 5. 2018. On this date, Michigan became the 11th state to adopt mandatory sick leave for employees, also known as the Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA).

What does this mean for your business?  Here we will explain what the law is how it affects your business and what you need to do to stay legal.

This act officially becomes effective on March 29, 2019.

This article is meant as a high-level guide, here is the actual ruling

Employers Must Give Sick Time Off

This new act effectively mandates that employers must establish a PTO policy where all employees (full OR part-time) must accrue a minimum of 1 hour for every 35 hours worked.  Accruing hours could also be viewed as earning hours, so if an employee worked 1000 hours in one year, you would divide the 1000 hours by 35 (1000 / 35 = 28.57) which gives the employee 28.57 hours of sick time.

Who Is Not Entitled To Paid Sick Leave

There are 12 categories of employees that are not eligible for the Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA). You can view a complete list of non-eligible employees at this website: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886_91049---,00.html.

Max Sick Accrued Depends On The Size Of Your Company

Under the act, an employer with 49 employees or less, the act does not apply.  If you have 50 employees or more, you do not fall under the “Small Business” clause and your employees will be due more paid sick time.

49 Employees Of Less

With a small business of 49 or fewer employees, the employees are not entitled to additional paid sick days.

50 Employees Of More

Michigan Businesses with 50 or more employees may accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave.  There is no allowance for unpaid sick leave here, all 40 must be paid.

An employer may choose to increase the maximums if they choose, this would benefit the employee, but the maximum accrued hours cannot be lowered.

Approved Uses Of Sick Time

Under Michigan's new paid sick leave act, there are definitions of what is considered “sick time”.  Here are the high-level concepts of what is considered sick time. 

  • The employee required mental or physical care or treatment
  • The employee's family members require physical or mental care
  • The employee is required to meet at the child's school or place or care related to health or disability
  • The employee's child's place or care or school closes
  • Physical care or treatment may include care for sexual assault or domestic violence

If the employer requires a “sick note” from a doctor, the employer is required to pay any out of pocket expenses needed to obtain the note.

Accrued Sick Time Carries Over From One Year To The Next

According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs , the new Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act states that unused employee sick time (up to 40 hours) can be carried over to the next year, but employers are not required to allow employees to use more than 40 hours in a single benefit year.

Here's an example, if your employee accrues 35 hours of sick time, but only uses 10 hours on sick days, there is a remaining balance of 25 sick hours. Employers can carry the 25 hours over into the new year, and the employee will effectively start the year with a positive bank of 25 sick hours. 

It is important to note that the employer has the option to give the 40 hours up front or decide to have employees accrue or proprate the hours. An employer also has the right to wait 90 days after an employee starts their job until they can use their sick time. 

Additionally, you, the employer can choose how to calculate a “year” under the act.  A “year” must be defined as any consecutive 12 month period, for instance, March 29, 2019, to March 28, 2020.

Accrued Sick Time Must Be Recorded

The new sick time act requires that all Michigan employers retain a minimum of 3 years records documenting employee's hours worked and sick time taken.  These records must be properly recorded and easily understandable. 

How You Can Comply

The first thing that needs to be done is to set up proper employee time tracking and sick time off accruals.  You can do this manually using pen and paper, or even using Excel.  While these manual systems will work, it is generally better to use online software such as OnTheClock, or do a Google search for something like “Employee Time Clock” for another solution. 

The second item is to set up a PTO policy that covers the Michigan paid sick time law. Keep in mind your company size, as 49 or fewer employees do not fall under the new Michigan Paid Sick Leave Law, and 50 or more employees are required to pay employees up to 40 hours for sick days. 

For additional information on how to track PTO or if you would like to understand more about proper paid time off please visit our Employee PTO Section

a thought From Daniel on 6/12/2019 ...
My employer (who definitely employs more than 50 employees) says no more than 6 employees can use PTO ( which I'm guessing is sick time since we don't have a "sick time" but have 40 hours of pto per mandated minimum) per one shift. If 7 people with pto call off because they're sick, is it allowable for the 7th person to be reprimanded?
reply from OTC - Hi Daniel, this is a great question. It is our understanding that an employer who qualifies and is mandated to give paid medical leave to their employees must do so no matter how many employees are out that day. However, this is only our understanding, and we recommend you contact LARA with the state of Michigan to confirm. Thank you for reaching out and have a great day!
a thought From M on 6/4/2019 ...
My employer is requiring a doctor note after each day of being sick and that will automatically take out of PTO. If we don't get a doctor's note we won't get pto and will get a point against us for u scheduled time off. I read somewhere that the employer has to reimburse for doctor's visits to gets note, is this true?
reply from OTC - Hi, thank you for reaching out. We believe it was in the original proposal for employers to reimburse the employee if they saw a doctor for a doctor's note per the employer's request. We are not 100% sure, but we think this idea is NOT in the actual law as of now. With that being said, it is our knowledge that an employer does not have to pay for your doctor visit when obtaining a doctor's note. We hope this information is helpful.
a thought From Wanda Schilling on 5/30/2019 ...
Can the employer use the Michigan Earned Sick Time to replace Vacation Time? Wanda
reply from OTC - Hi Wanda, thank you for the great question. The answer is yes. Employers do have the right to replace employee's vacation time with PMLA. This seems to be a common practice for many companies since it would cost a lot of money to add the additional sick time on top of the vacation time. We hope you find this information helpful.
a thought From Robyn Reed on 5/29/2019 ...
Does the employer have to pay the Dr. office visit fee, if they require a doctors note before three days?
reply from OTC - Hi Robyn, we believe the idea of the employer paying for the employee's doctor visit was in the original proposal, but is not included in the law that was passed. We recommend verifying this information with LARA, but this is our understanding of it. Thank you for contacting us.
a thought From Gail on 5/10/2019 ...
Our company uses the accrual method - 1 hour for every 35 worked. Does this mean that if I work 30 hours in one week, my hours carryover to the next week until I reach 35 and then I get the hour of paid time and the balance for the 2nd week carries over to the next week etc. etc.
reply from OTC - Hi Gail, yes it is our understanding that this is how it works. This is why it's very important for you and your employer to track hours worked. If you're an employee then you can make a free account to track your own personal hours to make sure they align with what your employer has on record. Thank you for reaching out.
a thought From Jason David Baird on 5/9/2019 ...
So if someone makes over $35,308 in 2019, then this law doesn't even apply to them because they are exempt, is that correct?
reply from OTC - Hello Jason, the income doesn't necessarily classify an employee being exempt or not due to many factors that classify exempt vs nonexempt workers. LARA states An individual who is exempt from overtime requirements under section 13(a)(1) of the fair labor standards act, 29 USC 213(a)(1) would not be considered eligible. We hope this helps.
a thought From Mason on 5/3/2019 ...
I missed a day of work due to illness and my employer is saying that I MUST use PTO for that shift I would have worked. I work in secondary education administration part time. I asked if I could just be unpaid and they said no. Is this legal?
reply from OTC - Hello Mason, great question. It's common practice for many employers to have employees use PTO when they miss a day rather than taking it unpaid. We hope this helps.
a thought From juan on 5/3/2019 ...
If I earn 40 hrs sick time and find a new job the next year does my company have to pay me for the hours earned or do I lose them?
reply from OTC - Hi Juan, this is a good question. We do not believe that a company has to pay you for unused paid sick days. We hope this helps.
a thought From Jeremy on 5/2/2019 ...
My work implemented the new law but turned one week of vacation time we already had and turned the five days of vacation time into the sick days? Is this legal?
reply from OTC - Hi Jeremy, employers are commonly doing this because it is hard for small businesses to afford giving an additional 40 hours of paid time off for every employee. But to answer your question, it is legal as long as they are giving you the proper amount of time off for paid medical leave even if that means adjusting your vacation time policy. We hope this information helps you.
a thought From Mark on 4/27/2019 ...
I am in a union. We do not have sick days in our contract, we only have 2 days that we have to schedule ahead to see a doctor and 12 vacation days . If I opt out of the union do my company have to now give me sick days under the new law?
reply from OTC - Hi Mark, great question. Since we do not know the terms of your union contract, we recommend that you discuss this with your HR department.
a thought From Crystal on 4/24/2019 ...
My work says that we only receive the PMLA after we have used all of our vacation pay and have also exhausted all FMLA. Is that allowed?
reply from OTC - Hi Crystal, it is our understanding that the employer has the right to require employees to use vacation time before paid medical leave. However when it comes to FMLA, we are not 100% sure how this works with the paid medical leave. We recommend contacting LARA to clarify this question. Thank you for reaching out.
a thought From Ryan on 4/24/2019 ...
Can sick time be combined with PTO if you only get 40 hours a year? I’ve only been with my company for a year and got 40 hours PTO in January. My employer says the 40 hours MUST be used in conjunction with my time off or I’m assuming it counts against us (we get 4hrs a month for perfect attendance) Are they allowed to do this?
reply from OTC - Hi Ryan, thank you for the question. If your employer falls under the requirements that makes them subject to the new PMLA law, then they must allow an employee 40 hours of paid medical leave per a 12-month benefit year or they can choose to have employees accrue 1 hour of paid medical time for every 35 hours worked until 40 hours is reached. Whether or not they decide to classify it under PTO or not is up to them as long as they are allotting the amounts previously mentioned. We hope this is helpful.
a thought From Tracy on 4/19/2019 ...
What if an employer does not have 50 employees, but then hires and hits that 50 employee mark, and then due to quits and terminations goes below the 50 employees. Once started in giving sick time off, does it stop when the employer goes back below 50 employees?
reply from OTC - Hi Tracy, very very very interesting question. This information is not provided in the document we have. We recommend visiting the DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS website for further assistance. Thank you.
a thought From Ron on 4/19/2019 ...
If I had 40 hours vacation at the beginning of this year and used it before this law passed will I still accrue hours after the law had passed
reply from OTC - Hi Ron, thanks for reaching out. This is interesting because your 40 hours was considered vacation time and not sick time. Although we are not sure how your PTO policy is structured, we recommend speaking to your HR department or contacting LARA to better assist you.
a thought From Kari on 4/17/2019 ...
My employer now says to get PTO has to be documented with Dr note in order to get paid. With stomach flu you know it's a one day thing and don't often go to dr, especially when it involves a $35 copay. I thought it was after 3 days they can require a note. Can they require a note for just one day? Also reading in earlier postings I read that if they require a note, they are required to pay? The copay? Did I read that right?
reply from OTC - Hi Kari, here is the updated information: An eligible employee shall, when requesting to use paid medical leave, comply with his or her employer's usual and customary notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave. An employer shall give an eligible employee at least 3 days to provide the employer with documentation. This act does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or discharging an eligible employee for failing to comply with the employer's usual and customary notice, procedural, and documentation requirements for requesting leave.
a thought From Steve tyler on 4/17/2019 ...
Hi. How does this affect fmla? I got injured on the job at work. I now have fmla. My employer is forcing me to use the sick time or pml as they call it and if I was to follow my fmla to a T then i will be out of my sick time in 2 weeks? Is this correct please clarify. Because my injury is to my shoulder. I'm not sick and could use it if I was to be sick. HELP
reply from OTC - Hi Steve, this is a great question, and one that we cannot seem to find the answer to. We're sorry that we are unable to assist you with this, but please contact LARA. Here is their website: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886_91049---,00.html
a thought From Nancy B on 4/16/2019 ...
To clarify, if my employer already gives me 80 of PTO per year (to use for sick and/or vacation as I choose), do they have to give me an additional 40 hours of sick time per the new law if I use all my PTO as vacation or do they have to set the PTO as 40 sick and 40 vacation to be compliant? And if so, can I technicially use the 40 designated as sick as vacation if I choose?
reply from OTC - Hi Nancy, With the new Paid Medical Leave Act, your employer does NOT have to give you an additional 40 hours per year since they already give more than enough PTO (80). But it is recommended they have it divided 40 hours for sick time and 40 hours of vacation time since you are required to receive 40 hours of paid sick time per year. The 40 hours of paid sick time under the Paid Medical Leave Act was not designed for employees to take advantage of for vacation time, but rather for actual medical leave time. An employee could technically say they are "sick" while being on vacation instead, but the employer does have the right to request a Doctor’s note. So we do not recommend for employees trying to pull a fast one on their employers by falsely using their paid sick time for vacation time, because not only is it unethical, but it can also catch the employee in a lie. We hope this helps.
a thought From marco on 4/15/2019 ...
Can employers still do point based absence sysytem and fire people for using this sick leave in too many different times?
reply from OTC - Thanks for inquiring. It is our understanding that the employer can still use the point system. We hope this helps.
a thought From Brooks on 4/13/2019 ...
How long does my employer have before they start accruing sick time hours? I understand they are restructuring, but every week there is a delay, we are losing sick time hours
reply from OTC - Hello Brooks, The new Paid Medical Leave Act went into effect March 29, 2019. With this being said, the employer would either have to allow employees to start accruing 1 hour of paid sick time per 35 hours worked OR they can give the 40 hours of paid sick time up front starting on that day. If your employer has not done so then we recommend contacting The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to gather additional information. Their website is: https://www.michigan.gov/wagehour We hope this information helps you.
a thought From Marie on 4/13/2019 ...
My employer took our vacation time away and turned it into PTO. I initially had two weeks paid vacation coming up next month. Now they are giving us 8 hours of PTO a month that they say will give me my 80 hours by December and if I don't use it I will loose it. Now with the new sick law people have been calling off using PTO. Well today we get notified that if we call in sick and have PTO we will get paid for it but they are also giving us points for calling in. If we don't have any PTO and call in sick we don't get paid and we still get 2 points for calling in
reply from OTC - Hi Marie, Technically vacation time would fall under PTO (paid time off). However it sounds like your employer is just grouping all your paid time off, including vacation time, into PTO. Regarding the point system, this is something we recommend that you reach out to LARA since they would know the law on this particular situation. Here is their website: https://www.michigan.gov/wagehour
a thought From Joe on 4/12/2019 ...
Please define employer paid. Part of our compensation is earned time benefits. So much time accrued by length of employment. Now since this law in effect as of 3/29/19 my employer is taking 2.59 hours biweekly from my earned time benefit! So what are they paying for! This is taking away from my agreed and documented benefit. I understood that as of 3/29/19 this law requires my employer to pay this time. Can you please comment on this? Thank you
reply from OTC - Hello Joe, It sounds like your employer has adjusted their PTO policy to coincide with the new law. Since we do not know what your company's PTO policy is, we really do not know why or what the reasoning is. We recommend contacting your HR department and they should be able to provide you with further details that will allow you to understand what is going on. Thank you for reaching out.
a thought From Jane on 4/11/2019 ...
My employer provides PTO based on years of employment (this year I received 32 hours). The PTO time is credited in January. Our vacation time is credited at the employee anniversary date and varies based on years of service (my anniversary date is in November and this November I will get 120 hours vacation time). Is my employer in violation of the new Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Law?
reply from OTC - Hi Jane, The law states that employers with more than 50 employees have to allow their employees to accrue 1 hour of paid sick time per 35 hours worked up to 40 hours OR employers have the option to give the 40 hours up front. We hope this helps.
a thought From Penny on 4/10/2019 ...
Hi, Are temporary employees who work long term assignments entitled to sick time? Thanks
reply from OTC - Hi Penny, Thanks for the question. There are 12 categories of employees that are not eligible for paid medical leave. You can view a complete list of non-eligible employees here: www.michigan.gov/wagehour. We hope this helps.
a thought From Jeff on 4/10/2019 ...
Does this new law cover public school employees? We've been told that if an employer already offers "sick time" that the new law does not affect them. We are currently offered paid sick time though it is generally declined when we try to use it. My employer claims we are under-staffed and essentially requires us to come to work. Can my employer (a public school) decline to pay sick time when it is needed?
reply from OTC - Hi Jeff, Thank you for reaching out. It is our understanding that your employer cannot deny you of sick time due to the new paid sick law that took place on March 29, 2019. Assuming they fit the requirement of having at least 50 employees or more, the law states that employees must accrue 1 hour of paid sick time per 35 hours worked OR be given 40 hours up front per year. This does NOT mean employees get an additional 40 hours of paid sick time on top of what they are currently receiving, but it simply means that employees are entitled to 40 hours of paid sick time each year. We recommend that you look further with LARA - here is their website: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886_91049---,00.html We hope this information helps you.
a thought From Johb on 4/10/2019 ...
Our company is taking our paid sick time out of our vacation time, is that allowed? I ask because if I use my 2 weeks of vacation, then get sick, I shouldn’t be able to get my sick time.
reply from OTC - Hello, Many companies are restructuring their PTO policies to accommodate for the new Michigan paid sick law. Some include using existing PTO hours as paid sick time. An example would be: If a company was offering their employees 80 hours of vacation time previously to the new paid sick law, they now may divide that up into 40 hours of vacation time and 40 hours of paid sick time. We recommend speaking with your HR department to get the actual layout of your PTO policy. We hope this information was helpful.
a thought From Shaun on 4/8/2019 ...
My work says this is for union workers only. Are they correct, I couldn’t find a definitive answer online.
reply from OTC - Hi Shaun, No, this law does not only apply to union workers only. The new law applies to businesses with 50 employees or more. We hope this helps.
a thought From Aaron on 4/6/2019 ...
I work for a trucking company that is based in Tennessee but I do most of my work in Michigan and pay Michigan taxes. How does this new law apply to me?
reply from OTC - Hi Aaron, This is a great question. We recommend that you contact LARA on this one since we do not have an answer. Here is their website: https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-59886_91049---,00.html
a thought From Jack on 4/5/2019 ...
My work is taking your first 5 days of vacation and using it as PTO time. If I'm not sick during the year, and use my time only as vacation and didnt use PTO time, will it carry over or do I have to save a weeks vacation to carry over, or is it lost because I took one weeks vacation of my 2 weeks, which was designated PTO time.
reply from OTC - Hi Jack, Regarding paid sick time, an employer is required to carry over accrued unused time for accrual method. An employer is not required to carry over time for the front-loaded method (dispersed up front at the beginning of the year). We hope this helps answer your question.
a thought From ashley on 4/3/2019 ...
my work does accruals for vacation time. and now with the new sick leave law they are doing accural for that as well. the accrual rate is the same for both. so with this in mind, do i lose accrual time for vacation time because of this? or will i accrue both at the same time.
reply from OTC - Hi Ashley, Great question! Employers have a few options on how they can give out the 40 hours of paid sick time. 1. Employers can give employees 40 hours right away to us throughout a year. 2. Under the new Michigan paid sick law, workers will accrue one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked up to 40 hours accrued. With that being said, if you are saying your employer is giving you the same accrual amount for vacation as they are for paid sick time, then that also should be 1 hour per 35 hours that you work. This is something that we recommend you speak to your HR department about since we do not know their PTO policies. It will also allow you to have a better understanding what you are entitled to as an employee. We hope this helps, OTC Team
a thought From Daniel on 3/30/2019 ...
I have two weeks vacation now they changed it to all pto but i still only get two weeks one vacation and medical. So really I'm losing a week vacation. Can they do that
reply from OTC - Hi Daniel, Many companies in the state of Michigan seem to be modifying their paid time off policies since the new paid sick law took place. It is our understanding that as long as employers who are required to offer the 40 hours of paid sick time do so, then the remaining PTO they offer to employees is strictly up to them. Please note that we are not legal experts and this is only our understanding of the law.
a thought From Rob on 3/28/2019 ...
My work has said that our vacation and sick time is put together. So here’s my question if I’m given 3 weeks vacation time a year and I take one week for a vacation in February am I not eligible for sick time the rest of the year even when I still have two week left ?
reply from OTC - Hello Rob, The new law states that employers who fall under the new paid sick law are required to give their employees 40 hours of paid sick time per year. How they choose to structure that into their PTO policy is strictly up to them as long as they are giving the 40 hours for paid sick time. We recommend speaking with your HR Department to gather additional information.
a thought From Dee on 3/15/2019 ...
Our Union people are saying we will have to wait until we have a new contract before we can use this sick time (in 2020). Can a union override State Law?
reply from OTC - Hi Dee, This is a good question. We aren't quite sure to the exact answer of your question. However, we do recommend reaching out to Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. They will be able to provide you with further details regarding a possible union override.
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