Labor and Employment Law Overview: Michigan

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • State law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Michigan permits drug testing, but limits criminal background checks to certain positions. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Michigan, there are many requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, meal and rest breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Michigan law dictates the frequency and the manner in which employers must pay wages. See Pay and Benefits.
  • State law gives employees the right to take certain leaves of absence. See Attendance and Leave.
  • Michigan law provides certain requirements impacting health and safety, including restrictions on smoking and weapons in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • Michigan has a job reference immunity statute protecting employers that provide job references. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Michigan

Michigan is generally considered an employee-friendly state.

Select Michigan employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Michigan requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act establishes protected classes, including many that are not recognized under federal antidiscrimination laws. Under the state law, Michigan employers with one or more employees are prohibited from discriminating based on certain characteristics, such as:

  • Religion;
  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • Marital status; and
  • Height or weight.

Michigan's Civil Rights Commission is the primary civil rights agency in the state and carries out Michigan's antidiscrimination laws, including those impacting employment. The Department of Civil Rights provides training to help businesses comply with the state's antidiscrimination laws and is responsible for investigating and resolving discrimination complaints.

Disability Discrimination

The Michigan Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act (MPWDCRA) seeks to prevent disability discrimination in employment and provide individuals with disabilities with equal access to employment opportunities. The MPWDCRA applies to employers with one or more employees and includes guidelines for determining whether a reasonable accommodation is an undue burden on an employer.

Wage Discrimination

Under Michigan's Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, employers may not discriminate on the basis of sex by paying employees of one gender a rate that is less than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for equal work. Employers may, however, base pay differentials on a:

  • Seniority system;
  • Merit system;
  • System measuring earnings on the basis of quantity or quality of production; or
  • Any other nondiscriminatory factors.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Michigan can be found in the Michigan Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Michigan, EEO - Discrimination: Michigan, EEO - Harassment: Michigan, Michigan Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal and EEO - Harassment: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Michigan requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Background Checks

Employers must conduct background checks on certain occupations, including:

  • Law enforcement officers;
  • Casino employees;
  • Certain health care facility workers; and
  • Childcare workers.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

In Michigan, a private employer may conduct substance abuse (i.e., drug and alcohol) testing of job applicants and employees. Drug testing can be conducted at the pre-offer rather than post-offer stage of the application process.

Genetic Testing

Employers may not require genetic information or genetic testing as a condition of employment or continued employment.

Medical Examinations

Michigan employers may not require new hires to pay the cost of any of the following, when requested by the employer:

  • Medical examinations;
  • Photographs; or
  • Fingerprinting.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Michigan can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Michigan requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act covers employers that employ two or more employees age 16 and older. Under this law, the minimum wage is $8.50 per hour. However, there are certain exceptions and a separate minimum wage rate exists for tipped employees. The state minimum wage will increase to $8.90 per hour on January 1, 2017 and to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2018.

Overtime

Nonexempt employees must be paid one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Employers that meet certain conditions may offer compensatory time off in lieu of overtime compensation. In that case, employees may agree to receive compensatory time of one-and-one-half hours for each hour of overtime worked.

Break Requirements

There are no requirements for meal or rest periods for employees age 18 or older. Minors who work five continuous hours are entitled to a meal or rest break of at least 30 minutes.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Michigan restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work. Michigan's Youth Employment Standards Act (YESA) prohibits certain occupations for minors under 18, such as:

  • Construction;
  • Machine operation and maintenance;
  • Roofing;
  • Demolition; and
  • Mining.

Minors are restricted form working after 8:00 p.m. or after sunset, whichever is earlier, if the work involves cash transactions at a fixed location, unless an adult employee is present.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Michigan can be found in the Michigan Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Michigan, Overtime: Michigan, Hours Worked: Michigan, Child Labor: Michigan, Michigan Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal

Pay and Benefits

Key Michigan requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

Employers must pay employees in the following manner:

  • Wages earned during the first 15 days of the prior calendar month must be paid by the first day of the following calendar month; and
  • Wages earned from the 16th through the last day of the prior calendar month must be paid by the 15th day of the following calendar month.

Employers that have a regularly scheduled pay day that occurs on a biweekly basis will be deemed in compliance with state law so long as:

  • Wages are paid to employees on the designated pay day; and
  • Employees' wages are paid within 14 days of the date they are earned.

Pay Statements

At the time wages are paid, employers must provide a statement (i.e., a pay stub) for each employee with the following information:

  • Hours worked;
  • Gross wages paid;
  • Identification of the pay period for which payment is being made; and
  • A separate itemization of deductions.

Termination Pay

Employers must pay terminated employees, regardless of whether the termination was voluntary or involuntary, all wages due at the next regular payday.

If an employee is engaged in harvesting crops and quits, the employer has three days to determine the amount owed and to pay the harvester.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefit practices in Michigan can be found in Payment of Wages: Michigan, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Michigan has fewer laws relating to required leaves for employees than many other states, but does have requirements related to leaves for:

  • Crime victim leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Civil air patrol leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Michigan can be found in the Michigan Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Michigan, USERRA: Michigan and Other Leaves: Michigan. Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Michigan requirements impacting health and safety are:

Michigan Occupational and Safety and Health Act

Michigan operates a federally approved state Occupational Safety and Health plan covering the private sector. The Michigan Occupational and Safety and Health Act applies to all employers. The act is administered by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Smoking Restrictions

Under Michigan's Smoke-Free Air Law, smoking is banned in all indoor workplaces and most public places (including bars and restaurants). Michigan employers are not required to provide smoking areas for employees.

Weapons in the Workplace

An employer may prohibit an employee from carrying a concealed pistol in the course of his or her employment.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Michigan can be found in the Michigan Employee Handbook Table of Contents, HR and Workplace Safety: Michigan, Employee Health: Michigan, Workplace Security: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal, Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Employers are protected from liability for statements made regarding a former employee to a prospective employer. The law only protects a former employer who conveys information that is documented in the employee's personnel file.

There is a presumption of good faith for all information conveyed by a former employer to a prospective employer, provided the information is contained in the former employee's personnel file. An employer will not be considered to have acted in good faith if:

  • The employer knowingly or recklessly (e.g., without performing proper diligence) provided false or misleading information; or
  • The employer provided information it was legally prohibited from disclosing.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Michigan can be found in Employee Communications: Michigan. Federal requirements can be found in Employee Communications: Federal.