Alliance Announces Amendments To Make Paid Sick Leave Mandate More Palatable

Recently, Senate Bill 1175 was introduced to make amendments to the Earned Sick Time Act.

While this bill would indeed lighten the burden of this act for employers, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance believes there is more that can be done to assist business owners in dealing with these challenging and inconsistent new laws, while staying true to the overall intent of the proposal.

Below are several suggestions we have submitted to the Michigan Legislature based on feedback from the business community in northern Michigan. Memo SB 1175_Nov 2018

Exemption for certain employers, employees

While all employers will have new obligations under ESTA, those obligations are not assumed equally. Most, if not all, large employers already provide paid leave policies, and most have Human Resources staff to implement and assist with compliance. It is small employers who will truly bear the additional burden of not only providing paid leave policy where they might have had none previously, but with tracking, record keeping, and added liability. We suggest:

  • An exemption for small employers.
  • An exemption for part-time, seasonal or training employees, and interns.


Amend statute of limitations

Senate Bill 1175 as introduced would lower the requirement for employers to retain certain paperwork pertaining to the ESTA from 3 years to six months. This would allow for consistency with the paperwork requirements and be more in line with paperwork retention requirements in other employment statutes.  We strongly support keeping this change, but would additionally recommend adjusting the statute of limitations from 3 years to six months as well.


Requests for medical or other information

A fitness for duty certification is a standard procedure that is used by employers under other employment acts, including FMLA and the ADA, to ensure that an employee is eligible to return to work, and to identify what restrictions, if any, the employee requires. We believe the strict language of ESTA prohibiting an employer from requesting medical information would not allow for an employer to use this necessary procedure to protect their interests as well as the interests of the subject employee and the interest of the other employees. We suggest:

  • Maintain consistency with other employment laws by allowing employers to require a fitness for duty certification, when necessary, prior to allowing an employee to return to work.
  • Strike the provision that requires the employer to pay for costs of information or verification. This is inconsistent with other employment laws.


Address frontloading and carryover

Many employers would prefer the ability to frontload earned sick time (i.e. – provide all earned sick time at time of hire or beginning of the year that an employee then draws from throughout the year) similar to many PTO policies. There is also much confusion about the employer’s obligation to allow unused paid sick leave to be carried over. We suggest:

  • Make the ESTA language clear to allow employers to frontload their earned sick time program.
  • Place a cap on how much earned sick time can accrue and carryover, if any, from one year to the next.


Dealing with Damages

Allowing liquidated damages in a civil action pursuant to Section 7 without a finding of willfulness on the part of the employer would usher in a new precedent in Michigan employment law. There is nothing comparable in other employment laws (e.g. wage and hour laws allow for liquidated damages upon a finding of willfulness, and the ADEA allows for liquidated damages upon a finding of willfulness). Allowing liquidated damages would double the amount of the financial liability and create more uncertainty for small employers. Calculation of the actual costs of a violation of the act by an employer should be rather easily calculated. We recommend removing the assessment of liquidated damages entirely or, at a minimum, making an assessment of liquidated damages allowable only upon a finding of willfulness.


Use more carrots

The current ESTA is very punitive and assumes the worst in employers and the best in employees. In reality, most employers currently provide some sort of sick leave or paid time off. We feel there are a number of ways policymakers could further incentivize employers to go above and beyond what they currently provide employees in paid and unpaid leave.

  • Exempt employers from the burdensome reporting requirements if they offer sick time or paid time off policies that are more generous than the act.
  • Assuming the legislature moves to provide the exemptions suggested above, offer an incentive to small employers who provide a paid leave policy, or employers who include part-time, seasonal, or interns in their paid leave policies.

Agenda Released For 2018 Policy Conference



2018 Northern Michigan Policy Conference Agenda

11:30 – Lunch

12:00 – Opening & Welcome
Amy Clickner, Lake Superior Community Partnership of Marquette
Kent Wood, Chamber Alliance Director of Government Relations


1:15 – 2018 Review of Legislative Priorities
Kent Wood


1:30 – Life After the Election

Sarah Hubbard, Acuitas, LLC


Refreshment/Networking Break


2:15 – Federal Outlook

Ben Taylor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Regional Director

2:30 – Visioning the Future: What Does Northern Michigan Economy Look Like in 2030?

Terry VanderCook, Northwest MI Works!

Lisa McComb, Otsego County Economic Alliance

Marty Fittante, InvestUP

Warren Call, Grand Traverse EDC

Amy Clickner, Lake Superior Community Partnership

3:15 – Polling

Refreshment/Networking Break

3:30 – Alliance 2019-2020 Agenda: How Can You Have An Impact?
Kent Wood & Sarah Hubbard

4:00 – The Importance of Northern Michigan Leadership

            State Representative Triston Cole (105th – Mancelona), 2019-2020 House Majority Floor Leader-elect

4:30 – Closing & Legislative Reception


Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor to help make this event possible:



2018 Election Overview

Election overview courtesy of:

Acuitas Color (RGB) Logo - JPEG

Whitmer Elected Governor of Michigan

  • Gretchen Whitmer was elected Michigan’s 49th governor.  With Whitmer’s win, former Detroit city official Garlin Gilchrist II of Detroit becomes the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor. The pair will be sworn in at noon Jan. 1, 2019 to succeed Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. Whitmer defeated Attorney General Bill Schuette.  Throughout the campaign, every publicly released poll on the race never showed her trailing. From mid-2017 to the present, Whitmer’s lead ranged from 14 to 5 percentage points


Dana Nessel Elected Attorney General

  • Democrat Dana Nessel has won a close race for attorney general over Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard.  Through the early morning, Ms. Nessel’s lead tightened to as little as 38,000 votes. But then it began to grow and with 93 percent of the precincts reporting just after 6 a.m., she had 1,878,621 votes to Mr. Leonard’s 1,791,896. We expect Nessel to bring a strong consumer protection approach back to the office of Attorney General.


Jocelyn Benson Elected to Secretary of State

  • Jocelyn Benson’s nine-year quest to oversee Michigan’s elections was realized as she overcame Republican Mary Treder Lang to become the state’s 43rd Secretary of State. The race was called at 9:23 p.m. after Benson worked up clear margins in the traditional Republican strongholds of Kent County and high-population competitive areas like Macomb County


Michigan Supreme Court Results Still Out, Favor a Split

  • With the final precincts still out Incumbent Justice Elizabeth Clement (who was appointed by Governor Snyder in 2017) and Democrat Nominee, Megan Cavanagh are holding narrow leads to be elected into the two open seats on the Michigan Supreme Court.  Incumbent Kurtis Wilder will likely be leaving the Court.


Stabenow Defeats James for U.S. Senate

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow defeated Republican challenger John James to win a 4th term in the U.S. Senate. In a race that never was in doubt, Stabenow, 68, used her $17.4 million political war chest to crush James, a political war veteran, under the weight of inevitability. With the U.S. Senate Republicans focused on keeping control of the upper chamber by backing their incumbents, James’ race fell off the radar at the federal level.


Democrats Flip Two Republican Congressional Seats

  • Democrats and Republicans will represent the same number for Michigan in the U.S. House in 2019-2020 after the Democratic nominees Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens captured the 8th and 11th districts, respectively, amid strong Democratic turnout statewide. Slotkin, a former national security official under two administrations, will become the first Democrat in 18 years to represent the 8th Congressional District after narrowly unseating U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop (R). Stevens polled particularly well in Wayne County while Epstein wasn’t able to make up enough ground in more rural areas of Oakland County, her association with Trump making her toxic in the district’s more white-collar areas. The 11th Congressional District was previously held by retiring U.S. Rep. David Trott (R).


GOP Holds Majority in Michigan House and Senate

  • Republicans managed to salvage a 22-16 majority in the state Senate after winning seven of the 12 arguably competitive seats in play. In the House, Democrats picked up five seats, bringing them to 52- four short of a majority. The final tally secures Republican control the legislative branch from 2019-22 and prevents Gov.-Elect Gretchen Whitmer from having a Democratic legislature in her first term.

Voters OK All Three Ballot Proposals

  • Voters approved all three ballot proposals:
    • Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol: Under the proposal, adults 21 and older may purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana edibles. People can also grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption. There will be a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences, and any amount over 2.5 ounces would need to be locked away, according to the proposal language.
    • Voters Not Politicians: Creates a 13-member commission to re-draw district lines after the 2020 census, replacing the current system that tasks the Legislature. It also establishes new redistricting criteria including geographically compact and contiguous districts of equal population, reflecting Michigan’s diverse population and communities of interest.
    • Promote the Vote: Codifies no-reason absentee, straight-ticket as well as Election Day registration and voting into the state’s constitution, among other provisions aimed at making it easier to cast a ballot.

Results – US House of Representatives

All 14 members of members of the Michigan Congressional delegation were up for reelection. Three seats were considered “open” due to the incumbent stepping down, with an additional three seats considered likely to flip. The 8th district (Republican Mike Bishop) flipped to Democrat Elissa Slotkin, and the 11th District (Retiring Republican David Trott) flipped to Democrat Haley Stevens. Representation is now a 7-7 split between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House. The following candidates won their elections:

District 1

  • Jack Bergman (incumbent): A former Marine general, pilot, and businessman, has pushed for lower taxes, a stronger national defense, and protections for gun owners.

District 2

  • Bill Huizenga (incumbent): Having replaced former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra in 2011, Huizenga is in his fourth two-year term and is a subcommittee chairman on the House Financial Services Committee.  Huizenga represents one of most Republican districts in the state but has diverged with Trump on several issues, including family separations at the southern border.

District 3

  • Justin Amash (incumbent): Currently serving his fourth term, Amash is a self-styled “small government” conservative who has challenged the Administration on numerous occasions. He was favored to win reelection.

District 4

  • John Moolenaar (incumbent): A second-term incumbent, former Dow Chemical chemist, state legislator, and Michigan’s only member on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He is a staunch conservative, believing that government spending must be cut, taxes reformed, and the Affordable Care Act repealed.

District 5

  • Dan Kildee (incumbent): A third-term incumbent, Kildee was the presumed winner.

District 6

  • Fred Upton (incumbent): Poised to become the dean of the state’s delegation to Congress with last night’s victory, Upton of St. Joseph has been representing southwestern Michigan since 1987.

District 7

  • Tim Walberg (incumbent): Formerly served in the Michigan Legislature. Walberg has held the seat since 2006 but was temporarily unseated by Democrat Mark Schauer before regaining it in 2010.

District 8

  • Elissa Slotkin: Slotkin served in Iraq as a CIA analyst, in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the State Department, and the Defense Department under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She was later nominated for Assistant Secretary of Defense by President Obama. Slotkin’s victory was considered a major upset among congressional races.

District 9

  • Andy Levin: Levin is the son of 18-term congressman Sander Levin (who is stepping down this year) and served in the Labor Department under Governor Jennifer Granholm. Levin was favored to win this seat.

District 10

  • Paul Mitchell (incumbent): Mitchell is a one-term incumbent who ran unopposed in the Michigan primary. During his first term, he has focused on transportation and infrastructure and was favored to win.

District 11

  • Haley Stevens: Stevens is a former director of workforce development and manufacturing engagement for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. She previously served in the Obama administration as a COS on the US Auto Rescue Taskforce. Stevens was polling slightly ahead of Epstein and was able to pull ahead late in the evening.

District 12

  • Debbie Dingell (incumbent): Dingell is a second-term incumbent and ran unopposed in the primary. She is the wife of former congressman John Dingell and was favored to win reelection.

District 13

  • Rashida Tlaib: A public interest lawyer and former three-term state representative who ran to both finish out Congressman John Conyer’s remaining term and for the general election. While she lost the special election (putting councilwoman Brenda Jones in the seat for eight weeks), she succeeded in winning the November nomination and was the assumed winner going into the general.

District 14

  • Brenda Lawrence (incumbent): The two-term incumbent ran unopposed in the August primary and was favored to win.


Results – Michigan House

All 110 of Michigan’s legislative seats were up for reelection last night, with nearly 40 losing incumbents due to term limits. While losing five seats to Democrats, the GOP was able to pick up one and hold onto its majority with a 58-52 spread. Minority leader Rep. Sam Singh (East Lansing) is termed out with numerous Democrats vying for his position. The following seats were considered contested and ranked in their likelihood to flip (winners listed first):

  • 62nd District (Battle Creek): Jim Haadsma defeated Dave Morgan
  • 40th District (Oakland Co.): Mari Manoogian defeated David Wolkinson
  • 41st District (Oakland Co.): Padma Kuppa defeated Doug Tietz
  • 20th District (Oakland Co.): Matt Koleszar defeated Rep. Jeff Noble
  • 71st District (Eaton Co.): Angela Witwer defeated Christine Barnes
  • 19th District (Wayne Co.): Laurie Pohutsky defeated Brian Meakin
  • 110’th District (Baraga): Gregory Markkanen defeated Ken Summers


Results – Michigan Senate

In the MI State Senate, all 38 seats were up for reelection and will see 26 new members due to term limits. The GOP lost five seats, but still hold a majority at 22-16. The new Majority Leader will likely be Senator Mike Shirkey (Jackson). Minority Leader Jim Ananich (Flint) will likely be re-elected to that role. The following races were considered contested and ranked on their likelihood to flip (winners listed first):

  • 29th District (Grand Rapids): Rep. Winnie Brinks defeated Rep. Chris Afendoulis
  • 13th District (Oakland Co.): Mallory McMorrow defeated Sen. Marty Knollenberg
  • 12th District (Oakland Co.): Rosemary Bayer defeated Mike McCready*
  • 20th District (Kalamazoo): Sean McCann defeated Sen. Margaret O’Brien
  • 34th District (Muskegon): Rep. Jon Bumstead defeated Poppy Sias-Hernandez
  • 38th District (UP):  Ed McBroom defeated Rep. Scott Dianda
  • 10th District (Macomb Co.): Michael McDonald defeated Rep. Henry Yanez
  • 7th District (Wayne Co.): Dayna Polehanki defeated Laura Cox
  • 24th District (Grtr Lansing/Out County): Rep. Tom Barrett defeated Kelly Rossman-McKinney
  • 15th District (Oakland Co.): Rep. Jim Runestad defeated Julia Pulver
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