March 30, 2020

Actions taken so far:

At the state level, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a number of executive orders and directives in response to the COVID-19 crisis. As of March 30, there have been no changes to paid sick leave or family and medical leave by the Legislature or governor in response to COVID-19.


At the federal level, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which makes the following paid sick leave provisions in the context of the coronavirus and which will expire at the end of 2020:

  • Requires that all public employers, and all private employers with fewer than 500 employees, provide 10 days of paid sick leave. 
  • Gives the U.S. Department of Labor the discretion to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from providing paid sick days for employees to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed. 
  • Replaces wages 100% with sick leave pay for workers experiencing symptoms who take time off to obtain a medical diagnosis or care, and replaces two-thirds of wages for workers who take time off to care for a self-isolating individual or for a child whose school or place of care is closed.
  • Amends the Family Medical Leave Act to allow for paid leave in a COVID-related public emergency in which an employee is unable to work/telework because their child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s usual care provider is unavailable. The first 10 days may be unpaid, and for subsequent leave, the employer must pay two-thirds wage replacement, up to $200 per day and $10,000 total.

Our recommendations:

Revise Michigan’s paid sick leave law to cover workers at businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The bill that Michigan residents approved for the ballot in 2018 included coverage for this population and will help many workers weather the COVID-19 disruptions. 

Extend paid sick leave coverage to all workers, regardless of how long or the number of hours they have worked for their current employer, of full- or part-time status, or of overtime exemption status. Current law carves out exemptions for many workers based on this criteria.

Allow workers to earn and use up to 72 hours of sick time in a year. Current law sets the maximum at 40 hours per year.


Why Michigan must act now: 

In Michigan, there is currently a paid sick leave law, but it leaves out many workers, including employees of businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and workers who have worked less than one year for their current employer, and many part-time workers. Plus, a legacy of systemic racism has created significant racial inequities when it comes to access to paid sick leave. Because of this, many workers in Michigan will experience financial hardship as a result of missing work due to coronavirus-related reasons or the public health order.

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