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Michigan’s New Paid Sick Leave Law: How Does the Temporary Employee Exclusion Apply?

Michigan’s new Paid Medical Leave Act goes into effect today, but questions have been raised as to how it applies to temporary help firms. The Act excludes temporary workers from coverage, but the exclusionary language could be misinterpreted, and ASA is seeking clarification. In the interim, staffing firms should seek guidance from their own counsel on how the exclusion applies.

The basis for excluding temporary employees from paid sick leave lies in section 2(e) of the Act, which describes who is and who is not an “eligible employee.” Section 2(e)(ix) excludes from eligibility “An individual described in section 29(1)(l) of the Michigan employment security act…”. That section is part of the Michigan UI Law that spells out when individuals may be disqualified from receiving UI benefits. Section 29(1)(l) describes one such circumstance applicable to employees of temporary help firms—defined as employers whose primary business is to provide clients with temporary services.

Section 29(1)(l) says that a temporary employee may be disqualified from UI benefits if the temporary help firm previously advised the employee of his or her obligation to notify the firm within 7 days after completion of a client assignment (sometimes referred to as the “call-back” requirement)—and the employee fails to provide such notice. The question is whether the exclusion of temporary employees from paid sick leave depends on whether the UI call-back requirements have been met.

We don’t think so. We think the legislature simply meant to exclude temporary employees assigned to clients by a temporary help firm, as defined in the UI law, without regard to the UI call-back requirements. The employee 7-day notice requirement, by definition, can be met (or not) only after an assignment is over. Hence, it would be impossible for a staffing firm to base an employee’s eligibility for paid sick leave, while on assignment, on a requirement that doesn’t apply until after the assignment ends. That makes no sense, and we are seeking official confirmation that it was not the intent.

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