The wait is over – Michigan employers (and employment lawyers) now know that the Earned Sick Time Act and Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, as originally proposed, will NOT go into effect on February 20, 2023.

In an opinion issued January 26, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals panel in Mothering Justice v. Attorney General overturned the Court of Claims' judgment that reinstated the Michigan Earned Sick Time Act and Michigan Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act as originally proposed as a ballot initiative. The opinion halted changes to Michigan's paid sick leave law and an increase to the State's minimum wage that were set to go into effect on February 19, 2023.

In 2018, the Michigan legislature adopted two voter initiatives, the Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (IWOWA), which increased the State's minimum wage to $12 by 2022, and the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), which required employers to provide employees with up to 72 hours of paid sick time per year. Each law underwent legislative changes, prompting voters to bring legal action to have the original version of the laws reinstated.

In the January 26 opinion, the Appellate Court found that the Michigan legislature had authority to amend the original voter initiatives, clarifying that the legislature has the power to amend any law it enacts, including citizen-initiated ones.

The immediate implication of the opinion is that Michigan employers can pause their plans to become compliant with ESTA and the increased minimum wage under IWOWA. While it remains possible that a further appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court could change this result, the immediate pressure of the February 19, 2023 date is relieved.

Michigan's Paid Medical Leave Act (MCL 408.961 et. seq.) continues to require employers having 50 or more employees to provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave to specified non-exempt employees.

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