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

  • Michigan law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also allow employees to access their personnel files, protect whistleblowers and allow wage discussions. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Michigan limits preemployment criminal background checks. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Michigan, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Michigan has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements and wage deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Michigan law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including jury duty leave, crime victim leave, military leave and Civil Air Patrol leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Michigan prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving, but permits weapons in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Michigan employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Michigan

Michigan has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including broader antidiscrimination protections and disability accommodation rights and a higher minimum wage, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as leaves of absence and occupational safety.

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:

Fair Employment Practices

The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits Michigan employers with one or more employees from discriminating based on certain characteristics, such as:

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

The Act explicitly prohibits sexual harassment.

Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability or genetic information and requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for the known disabilities of qualified individuals with disabilities.

Disability Accommodation

An employer must reasonably accommodate the known disabilities of qualified individuals with disabilities. An accommodation is not required if it would require significant difficulty or expense, impose undue financial administrative burdens or require a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program.

An employer with 15 or fewer employees is not required to restructure a job or alter an employee's schedule as an accommodation. If an employer is required to restructure a job or alter a schedule, it will only be for minor or infrequent duties relating to the particular job held by the employee with the disability.

Additionally, an employee may not bring a claim for failure to unless he or she notified the employer in writing of the need for accommodation within 182 days after he or she knew or reasonably should have known of the need for accommodation. However, the employer must post notices or use other appropriate means to notify employees of these requirements.

Equal Pay

Under Michigan's Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, an employer with two or more employees 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 within the same establishment of the opposite sex for equal work. Employers may, however, base pay differentials on a:

  • Seniority system;
  • Merit system;
  • System measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • A factor other than sex.

Discussion of Wages

An employer may not require that employees refrain from disclosing their wages as a condition of employment or require employees to waive their right to disclose their wages. Similarly, an employer may not terminate, discipline or discriminate against employees who disclose their wages.

Access to Personnel Files

Under the Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act, employers with four or more employees must allow employees to inspect their personnel records:

  • At reasonable intervals;
  • At a location reasonably near the employee's place of employment;
  • No more than two times per calendar year; and
  • During normal office hours.

Employees may request a copy of the records, and the employer may charge a reasonable copying fee.

Whistleblower Protections

Michigan's Whistleblowers' Protection Act prohibits employers from terminating, threatening or otherwise discriminating against an employee because the employee reports or is about to report to a public body, verbally or in writing, a violation or a suspected violation of a law, regulation or rule.

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, EEO - Retaliation: Michigan, HR Management: Michigan, Employee Discipline: 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, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal, HR Management: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Michigan requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

No employer, other than a law enforcement agency, may request, make or maintain a record of an arrest that did not result in a conviction. This prohibition does not apply to criminal convictions or pending felony charges. An employer may consider a past criminal conviction in making hiring decisions as long as the employer takes into account:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense;
  • The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence; and
  • The nature of the job for which the applicant has applied.

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 with two or more employees age 16 and older. Under this law, the minimum wage is $9.25 per hour. However, there are certain exceptions and a separate minimum wage rate exists for tipped employees.

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.

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, including but not limited to:

  • 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.

Minors generally may not work:

  • More than six days per week;
  • More than 10 hours in one day; and
  • More than a weekly average of eight hours per day.

In addition, minors 15 years and younger may not work between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Minors 16 years and older may not work between 10:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. on weekends and when school is not in session) and 6 a.m.

Minors who work five continuous hours are entitled to a meal or rest break of at least 30 minutes.

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

The Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act requires Michigan employers to pay employees' wages in cash or by check or money order. An employer may pay wages by direct deposit, electronic paycard or payroll debit card under certain circumstances.

Pay Frequency

Wages may be paid weekly, biweekly or semimonthly. Wages may also be paid monthly, provided all wages earned in a calendar month are paid by the first day of the following month.

Pay Statements

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

  • Hours worked;
  • Gross wages paid;
  • The pay period for which payment is being made; and
  • Itemized deductions.

Wage Deductions

Wage deductions are prohibited unless they are allowed by law or a collective bargaining agreement, are authorized by the employee in writing or are for the employer's benefit (e.g., cost of uniforms).

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 benefits practices in Michigan can be found in Payment of Wages: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Michigan has few laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim 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 time off and leave of absence practices in Michigan can be found in the Michigan Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Michigan, USERRA: Michigan, Other Leaves: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in 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:

Smoke-Free Workplace

Under Michigan's Smoke-Free Air Law, smoking is banned in all indoor workplaces and most public places (including bars and restaurants). An employer must post no-smoking signs prominently and remove all ashtrays from indoor areas. Employers are not required to provide smoking areas for employees.

Weapons in the Workplace

An employer may not prohibit an employee with a permit from carrying a concealed firearm in the workplace or parking lot areas. However, an employer may prohibit an employee from carrying a concealed pistol in the course of employment.

Safe Driving Practices

Michigan bans all drivers from texting while operating a vehicle. The ban extends to such actions as reading, typing or sending text messages on any communication device located in a person's hand or lap, while operating a moving motor vehicle.

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

Key Michigan requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

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

Accrued benefits, such as vacation time, must be paid on termination as provided in a written employment contract or employer policy.

An employer must pay all of tahe deceased employee's unpaid wages due, including fringe benefits under a written contract, policy or plan, to one or more of the following surviving relatives in the order listed:

  1. Spouse;
  2. Children;
  3. Parent; or
  4. Sibling.

References

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

There is a presumption of good faith for all information conveyed by an 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 knew the information disclosed was false or misleading;
  • The employer disclosed the information with a reckless disregard for the truth; or
  • The disclosure was specifically prohibited by a state or federal statute.

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 Payment of Wages: Michigan, Employee Communications: Michigan and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Michigan? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.