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Quick and Easy Guide to Labor & Employment Law: Michigan

This state-specific guide covers labor and employment case law, statutes, rules, and regulations that HR professionals and clients often encounter or have questions about in Michigan.

At-Will Employment

Michigan is an employment-at-will state, which means that, in the absence of a written employment agreement or a collective bargaining agreement, either the employer or the employee can terminate employment for any reason that is not contrary to law. McNeil v. Charlevoix Cty., 772 N.W.2d 18, 24 (Mich. 2009).

Michigan recognizes exceptions for a wrongful discharge claim when an employee's termination clearly violates public policy. Suchodolski v. Michigan Consol. Gas Co., 316 N.W.2d 710, 711-12 (Mich. 1982). Examples of public policy exceptions that have been recognized include termination for:

Right-to-Work Law

In Michigan, employees shall not be required to become a member of a labor organization (or refrain from doing so) as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment. Mich. Comp. Laws § 423.14.

Immigration Verification

Michigan places no additional employment verification procedures on private employers beyond Federal I-9 compliance. There is no requirement that private employers use E-Verify under Michigan state laws.

Drug Testing

Michigan has no statute governing drug and alcohol testing in either pre-employment or employment. Employers may create employment policies, programs, procedures or rules on the use of alcohol or illegal use of drugs. Mich. Comp. Law 37.1211(a).

Jury Duty Leave

Michigan law does not require an employer to pay an employee for responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury. An employer may not discharge, discipline or threaten an employee for being summoned for jury duty, serving on a jury or having served on a jury.

In Michigan, an employer may not require an employee who serves jury duty, without the employee's voluntary consent or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, to work (1) any number of hours during a day which, if added to the number of hours which the employee spends on jury duty, exceeds the number of hours normally worked by the employee during a day, or (2) the number of hours normally worked by the employee if it would result in the employee be required to work past the employee's normal quitting time. Mich. Comp. Stat. § 600.1348

Voting Leave

Michigan does not have a law which requires an employer to grant its employees leave, either paid or unpaid, to vote. While Michigan does not have a voting leave statute covering private employers, an employer may not, either directly or indirectly, discharge or threaten to discharge an employee to influence the employee's election vote. Mich. Comp. Stat. § 168.931(1)(d).

Parental Leave

The State of Michigan does not require an employer to offer to its employees parental leave. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified medical or family reasons under certain circumstances.

Other Leave

Michigan laws does not require private employers to provide employees with vacation, bereavement or sick leave, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. However, employers are subject to the federal Family Medical Leave Act and its requirements.

Smoking Laws

In Michigan, smoking is banned in all public places, including places of employment. A place of employment includes any enclosed indoor area where one or more employees perform work, but excludes the Detroit casinos, cigar bars and tobacco retail stores, home offices and motor vehicles.

Michigan law prohibits smoking anywhere in an employer’s indoor facilities, including private, enclosed rooms or offices occupied exclusively by a smoker. "Smoking" means the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains a tobacco product, but does not include chewing tobacco. Employers are not required to report smoking violations to any police or government authority, but are required to post "no smoking" signs at the entrances to and in every building or work area covered by the smoking ban; remove all ash trays and other smoking paraphernalia from any work area covered by the smoking ban; inform any employee or other who is smoking in violation of the law that he or she is violating state law and is subject to penalties for doing so; and, if applicable, refuse to serve an individual smoking in violation of the law. Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 333.12601.

Break Time to Express Milk

Michigan law does not require employers to provide nursing mothers with breaks to express breast milk. However, employers are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirement to provide basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work.

Meal Breaks

Michigan does not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers 18 years old or older. An employer who chooses to provide a meal, lunch or break period must completely relieve employees of their work duties for the break period to be unpaid.

Minimum Wage, Overtime and Wage Recordkeeping

Beginning on January 4, 2021, Michigan set minimum wage at not less than $9.65 per hour. The minimum wage for minors age 16 and 17 is $8.20 per hour. Employers must still comply with federal wage laws and regulations. The employer can pay tipped employees $3.67 per hour. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.934.

Michigan overtime law requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime pay equal to one and one-half of their regular hourly pay for any hours worked more than 40 in a week. Under Michigan law, employees may only be entitled to overtime pay if the employer has more than two or more employees. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.414a.

Michigan overtime law provides that unpaid overtime can still be collected up to three years from the date the pay was earned. The Michigan overtime law has the same major exemptions as the FLSA.  Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.414a.

Under Michigan law, an employer must maintain a record for each employee which indicates the employee's name, address, birth date, occupation or classification in which employed, total basic rate of pay, total hours worked in each pay period, total wages paid each pay period, a separate itemization of deductions and a listing or itemization of fringe benefits. Mich Comp. Laws § 408.479. Records must be maintained for not less than three years. Mich Comp. Laws § 408.479. The records shall be open to inspection by an authorized representative of the department at any reasonable time.

Final Payments

The State of Michigan requires employers to pay an employee who is voluntarily leaving employment or one who is discharged all wages earned and due, on the regularly scheduled payday for the period in which the termination occurs. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.472.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance benefits provide income to individuals who have lost work through no fault of their own. These benefits are intended to partially offset the loss of wages while an unemployed worker searches for suitable work or until an employer can recall the employee to work. Nothing is deducted from the employee's wages to pay for this coverage. Unemployment benefits are administered by the State Department of Labor, and additional information regarding the benefits may be accessed at www.michigan.gov/leo/0,5863,7-336-94422_97241---,00.html.

Workers' Compensation

In Michigan, employers with three or more employees at any time or has one employee working 35 hours or more per week, must carry workers' compensation insurance, which provides wage replacement, medical and rehabilitation benefits to employees who are injured or fall ill because of their work, regardless of fault. Mich. Comp. Laws § 418.115. There are certain limited exceptions, including some farm workers and independent contractors. Mich. Comp. Laws § 418.115.

An employee's injury must be work-related. While injuries are covered regardless of fault, compensation may be denied if the injury was the result of intentional or willful misconduct.

Child Labor 

The minimum age for employment of minors is 14 years, except that a minor 11 years of age or older may be employed as a golf caddy, bridge "caddy" or sports referee, and a minor 13 years of age or older may be employed in certain agricultural service operations or as a trap setter. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.103. The department may approve exceptions for minors employed by performing arts organizations.

Minors under the age of 16 may only work eight hours per day and 48 hours per week during a school week. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.110. The 48 hours include combined hours of work and school. Work is permitted outside of school hours, no earlier than 3:00 pm, Monday – Friday. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.110.

Minors ages 16 and 17 may only work ten hours per day and 48 hours per week, up to six days per week when school is not in session. If school is in session, they may work up to 24 hours per week. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.111.

Gun Laws

Under Michigan law, an employer cannot prohibit an employee from applying for or receiving a concealed pistol license. An employer, however, can prohibit an employee from carrying a concealed pistol in the course of employment with that employer. Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.425n.

Additional Laws and Regulations

Equal pay

The Michigan Civil Rights Act prohibits compensation discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy), height, weight, disability, genetic information or marital status. Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.2202. Michigan law also prohibits retaliation against an employee for reporting or alleging a violation of the equal pay law or participating as a witness in an equal pay claim proceeding. 

Medical Marijuana

Michigan has enacted the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, which offers medical marijuana registration cards for patients with debilitating medical conditions, as specified. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26423. The Act does not permit any person to undertake any task under the influence of marijuana, when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26427(b)(1). Employers are also not required to accommodate the consumption of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26427(c)(2).

Michigan also authorizes recreational marijuana use pursuant to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.27951, et seq. Michigan employers are not required to permit or accommodate marijuana use in the workplace or on the employer's property. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.27954. An employer may refuse to hire, discharge, discipline or take any other adverse action against an employee because the employee violated a workplace drug policy or worked while under the influence of marijuana. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.27954.

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Guide last updated July 2021.

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