Ask The Lawyer, Paid Time Off? By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
DOES NEW PAID TIME OFF LAW INCREASE WORKER’S PTO HOURS?
QUESTION: I had earned 40 hours of Paid Time Off, which I could use for vacation time, sick time, or personal time, under my employer’s policy. In March, we were told that our PTO was being converted into Paid Medical Time to meet the requirements of a new law. Before the change, I could use my PTO for anything – not just for medical reasons. I think my employer is using the new law as an excuse to cut our benefits and is breaking the law.
ANSWER: Michigan’s new Paid Medical Leave Act, MCL 408.963, which went into effect on March 29, requires employers with at least 50 employees to give their workers one hour of Paid Medical Leave (PML) for every 35 hours worked. Employers may limit the total paid medical leave hours to 40 per year.
The Act creates a “rebuttable presumption” that an employer who provides employees at least 40 hours paid leave, which is defined as including paid vacation days, paid personal days, and paid time off, is in compliance with the Act.
If the employer was already providing employees with 40 hours of paid leave per year, it was in compliance with the Act. Your employer was not required to limit the use of your paid leave to medical leave. You may have a legitimate gripe if, as you say, you had accrued hours which could be used for vacation, personal days, etc., and now find the time is only available if you or someone in your family has a “mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.” Hours you may have already accrued should not be taken away from you.
You may want to verify the interpretation of the new law with your human resources department, because time off under the new law does not have to be used exclusively for medical reasons. If misunderstandings persist, you may want to contact a lawyer for more information about your rights. For example, other laws, like the Family and Medical Leave Act, allow time off work for eligible employees, without pay.
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By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law