Michigan’s Earned Sick Time Act will change policies for many employers

UPDATED – 11/30/2018 – Michigan Earned Sick Time Act

In early September 2018, Michigan’s Legislature adopted the Earned Sick Time Act, which applies to all private employers employing one or more individuals, and takes effect on April 1, 2019. It was originally advanced as a ‘citizen initiated/petitioned ballot measure’ to be placed before the voting public. The legislature opted to avoid the ballot initiative by adopting the law as written.

On November 28, 2018, Michigan state senators voted for a bill introduced by Senator Shirkey to dramatically scale back the Requirements for Earned Sick Time Act, specifically that small businesses (fewer than 50 workers) will be exempt.  This act will also not apply to employees exempt from overtime or who work for a private company but are covered by a labor contract

What will the Earned Sick Time Act do?

  • Require employers, with over 50 employees, to provide every employee 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked, or 36 hours per year.  This will allow employees to use up to a certain amount of paid sick time in a year for a specified number of purposes, such as illness, medical treatment, absences caused by domestic violence or sexual assault, or meetings related to a child’s school or care.
  • Allow employees to take leave with little advanced notice.
  • Permit employers to request documentation only if the absence is longer than 3 days, and then requires that the employer to cover the employee’s out-of-pocket costs incurred in providing such documentation.
  • Require employers to provide written notice to employees of their rights under the Act, including protections against employer retaliation.
  • Permit aggrieved employees to file claims with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or take legal action.

As written, the Earned Sick Time Act could prove challenging for many employers to implement, especially those who have established time-off policies. Employers can comply with the Earned Sick Time Act by providing paid leave (such as vacation, personal days, PTO, etc.), as long as that leave, (1) Accrues at a rate equal to or greater than what the Earned Sick Time Act requires; (2) Is at least the same amount as the Earned Sick Time Act; (3) May be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions.  Employees must begin accruing leave on the law’s effective date or when employment begins (whichever is later) at a rate of at least 1 hour for every 40 hours worked.

What does this mean for employers? 

It is still somewhat unclear what the Earned Sick Time Act will look like come April 1, 2019.  Rest assured that BCN Services will continue to monitor and report on further developments. Meanwhile, employers should take stock of their existing time-off policies, especially if they have separate sick time, vacation time, and personal time policies.

 

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Thom Moore, Partnership Manager

Michigan voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Now what?

On Nov. 6, 2018, Michigan residents voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, making this the first state in the Midwest to do so. The new law allows individuals age 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles. The initiative specifies that adults can grow up to 12 marijuana plants (keeping a maximum of 10 ounces) for their own consumption.

Although the referendum calls for the law to take effect 10 days after election results are certified, in early December, marijuana is not expected to be available commercially for quite some time, as the state puts regulations and licensing in place and local municipalities decide whether to allow such businesses in their communities. Police agencies around Michigan must also consider how law enforcement procedures will change with the new law. A number of Michigan universities are also releasing policy statements regarding marijuana use on campus.

How does the law affect the workplace? Employees can still be fired (or not hired) for a positive drug test. Employers may continue to perform pre-employment and random drug tests on employees and maintain zero-tolerance policies. This new referendum will not protect job applicants or employees who test positive for marijuana use.

Individual Michigan employers must consider whether to maintain zero-tolerance drug policies or create alternate guidelines. Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure pre-employment drug-testing policies and employee handbooks reflect the times. A policy needs to be in place making it crystal clear that employees are prohibited from being impaired by marijuana while on the job, legal or not.

We recommend that employers focus on prohibiting employees from being impaired due to alcohol/marijuana use while working instead of focusing on marijuana use in and of itself. By focusing on impairment instead of use, employers will minimize the likelihood of conflicting with state “lawful use” laws.

Employers with federal contracts or for those with employees licensed through federal agencies, there is no gray area. Marijuana is an illegal substance under federal law and, thus, a zero-tolerance drug policy will apply. For employers facing significant safety and health risks, drug testing is imperative.

Employers not facing significant safety and health risks from impaired employees may decide drug testing risks outweigh potential benefits. In states where recreational marijuana is already legal, a growing number of companies are asking the lab to test for all drugs except marijuana. For example, in Nevada, where marijuana was legalized in 2017, the number of companies asking that marijuana be included in workplace drug testing dropped from 95 percent in 2016 to 91 percent in 2017.

Do you need help considering the marijuana issue in your workplace policies? The specialists at BCN Services are happy to help you craft or revise a policy. Contact us for assistance.

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Thom Moore, Partnership Manager

How to inspire and retain Millennials, and employees of every generation

We’ve all heard, or thought, some of these assumptions about the Millennial generation:

“Millennials are entitled.”
“Millennials expect the world and are barely willing to work.”
“All millennials do is stare at their phones on social media.”
“Millennials aren’t committed to their jobs and won’t stay long.”

In an effort to help our clients and, more broadly, our readership, I embarked on a mission to learn more about what Millennials are looking for at work. Much to my surprise, over and over again research I found does not support the commonly held perceptions about the Millennial generation (born between 1981-1999, or sometimes more narrowly defined as those born between 1983 and 1994).

Millennials have good intentions at work

There’s a strong body of research about employees’ preferences among generations and how they relate to employment. Topics range from the types of benefits preferred, to work environment, flexible schedules, and having an opportunity to make a difference in the company and the world. In nearly all categories among thousands of people surveyed, there was little-to-no difference in responses between the generations. What surprised me the most, is the data related to employees and their intentions to stay at their job for a long time. Even in that category there wasn’t a significant difference between generations.

Most of the articles on the subject conclude that the concerns of more seasoned managers regarding younger workers are essentially the same concerns that have existed about younger workers for decades. In other words, someone likely made those same statements about your generation when you were that age.

There is, however, a theory that the Millennial generation is more vocal about how they feel than other generations.

So where does that leave us?

This is actually great news! What it means is that solid employment practices to inspire employees and encourage retention don’t need to be tailored to specific generations. People are people, and companies and managers can generally expect employees to respond positively to and be more likely to stay at their jobs as a result of the following management practices:

  1. Treat everyone with respect. EVERYONE. No matter what they look like, what age they are, or how they’ve treated you. Set the example in how you treat employees at all levels, how you treat customers, and how you treat people outside of work. In some cases, that may mean having to communicate a difficult truth to someone. But that conversation can happen in a respectful manner and can bring about change in an employee who really wants to be a part of your team.
  2. Make sure every employee understands the company’s goals. Then help everyone see how their work helps to accomplish the mission and vision of the company. Any connection an employer can make between the mission of the company and the betterment of society is an excellent way to help get employees get on board, as well.
  3. Listen. Employees who are at your company working hard every day will likely have productive ideas and new perspectives. Most employees, regardless of generation, want to collaborate and be part of a creative solution to work problems.
  4. Invest in the employee development. That includes formal and informal training. Teach them how to do something new and give them opportunities to apply those new skills in projects that will impact the company’s relationship with its customers or clients, or otherwise impact the bottom line.
  5. Make advancement opportunities clear and available. As you develop employees, help them see how they can advance within the company so they don’t want to take those valuable skills elsewhere. It’s difficult to keep employees who don’t see any advancement potential.
  6. Offer workplace balance and flexibility when possible. This is also something all generations look for in their employment. If flexibility doesn’t work for your company, help them to understand why so they know you will make options available when you can.

Leading by example and making retention initiatives a part of your regular operation as a company has benefits for every generation of employees.

Employees of all generations can be influenced to stay at your company in an inspiring and supportive setting. In a job environment where unemployment is lower than it’s been in years, retaining employees from every generation has never been more important.

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Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Be aware of voter leave laws, talk with staff before Tuesday

With voter turnout expected to be higher than ever at the polls for 2018 mid-term elections on November 6, some employers may wonder about their obligation to employees.

While there is no federal law mandating time off for voting, nearly half of U.S. states provide a voter leave law (either paid or unpaid).

Employers in states with paid voter leave laws (Illinois and Minnesota, for example) should familiarize themselves with the leave law before employees request time off to vote. Some of these laws have specific details related to requesting of time and how much time must be paid.

Other states (such as Michigan and Indiana) don’t require employers to give time off, however, it is a best practice to encourage employees to make time to vote. Employers may want to consider adding a policy addressing time off for voting, depending upon their specific situation.

If you are an employer that operates in more than one state, experts suggest that you either maintain one policy that complies with all state laws or implement a general policy that denotes local laws will prevail.

Regardless of the laws in your state, managers can take a proactive role by talking to their staff before Tuesday. To maximize office coverage, find out if some employees can vote on the way in to work, some on the way home from work and, depending on logistics, maybe some during an extended lunch period. Advanced planning can be key in making your employees’ work day smoother both in and out of the office.

Not sure of the laws in your state(s)? Would you like assistance in creating a voter leave announcement or a policy for your employee handbook? Contact your HR experts at BCN Services to discuss your individual situation.

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Sue Kester, HR Manager