Employment laws don’t change all that often, but it is always a good idea to brush up on the basic laws each year to see which laws, if any, have changed. As with any state, Michigan also has some laws for employers that may not be required in other states. Michigan small business owners should make themselves familiar with these 2017 Michigan employment laws.
Most people are well aware of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy and national origin. Discrimination because of age, genetic information or disability is also discouraged, but the latter laws only apply to employers with 20 or more employees for age discrimination and 15 or more employees for genetic information or disability. Michigan state also takes a strong stance on discrimination based on marital status, AIDS/HIV, height, weight and misdemeanor arrest records. These are laws that affect every employer in Michigan regardless of company size.
Any action that is considered to be unwelcome, statements made about a protected trait and creates a hostile or offensive working environment or must be endured in order to keep a job, is prohibited.
Michigan employers must pay their employees overtime for any and all hours worked after the first 40 hours in a week. However, this law does not apply to exempt employees or those who are salaried. As of December 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor set new federal overtime regulations where the salary threshold for overtime eligibility is now $47,476 per year, or $913 per week compared to the previous of $455 per week . The new salary threshold is expected to be updated every three years as well based on wage growth. However, some employees like teachers, doctors and outside sales representatives are exempt from the new change.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act expects employers to provide a safe workplace environment for their employees, with healthy working conditions and removal of any known safety hazards. Business owners may also be required to provide safety training and equipment for their workers. Employers should also know that their employees are given the right to ask for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection if they believe that they are working in unsafe conditions. Business owners are not allowed to retaliate against their employees for doing so. Employees who are injured on the job are entitled to worker’s compensation. Most Michigan employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance for just such occasions.
While many Michigan employers offer paid leave for vacation, sick days, holidays and other events, these benefits are discretionary. Michigan does not require employers to offer paid leave with the exception of the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law is for employers with 50 or more employees. FMLA allows employees to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for illness, caregiving and those bonding with new children in the family. The employee also has the right to be reinstated into their role after the leave of absence is over.
Other leave events
The U.S. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Michigan law both expect employers to allow their employees to take time off work to serve in either federal or state military service. Michigan employers must also allow employees to take unpaid time for military drills, instruction or encampment, and they must be allowed to be reinstated when they return. FMLA also allows military employees to take up to 26 weeks off during a single year to care for a member of the family who became seriously ill or injured while on the job. Finally, employers also need to allow their employees to serve for jury duty.
While Michigan employees work at-will, which means that they can be fired at any time for almost any reason, they cannot be fired for making accusations about harassment, filing a claim for unpaid wages or making an OSHA complaint.
This article was written by Jeffrey Totey for Small Business Pulse