10 October 2019

New Bills to Protect Workers’ Rights Introduced in Michigan

Recently, a group of lawmakers in the Michigan House of Representatives announced a series of bills that are designed to strengthen employee rights and increase compensation.  The bills include:

  • A “Temporary Worker Bill of Rights” that requires employers to give temporary workers the first opportunity at permanent positions and more notice about when they’re scheduled to work.
  • The “Employee Fair Scheduling Act,” which requires employers to provide new employees with a good-faith estimate of the employee’s work schedule. The proposed Act also would require employers to provide current employees with a written work schedule at least 14 calendar days in advance.
  • A bill that increases the salary threshold for exempt employees to $55,000 (the U.S. Department of Labor recently increased the salary threshold to $35,568, meaning the proposed $55,000 threshold is, to put it mildly, “significant”).
  • A new state dependent care credit to offset the cost of childcare, caring for an elderly or disabled parent, or another dependent.
  • A bill that restores Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% (Michigan reduced the rate from 20% to 6% in 2011).
  • A bill that requires severance pay for employees who are discharged because of a company shutdown, relocation, or mass layoffs.
  • A bill that requires employers to give employees a 30 minute meal break for every five hours worked.
  • A resolution that clarifies that severance pay would not conflict with unemployment benefits.

It seems unlikely at this time that these bills will pass Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature.  But the bills exemplify recent labor and employment trends across the country.  As readers of this blog are likely aware, GM’s use and treatment of temporary workers is at the core of the UAW’s ongoing strike against the company.  California also recently passed a law to address “gig workers,” making it difficult for employers to prove that workers are independent contractors instead of employees.

While the bills introduced in Michigan shouldn’t make you rush to change your policies and procedures, they are important to consider as we all keep our fingers on the pulse of trends in the law. Bills and executive actions covering workplace and employee-related issues and topics likely will continue to be introduced, and we will be here to keep you updated as they do.