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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.

Disclaimer: These materials do not constitute legal advice and should not be substituted for the advice of legal counsel.

Guide last updated September 2023.

At-Will Employment

Michigan is an employment-at-will state, which means that, in the absence of a contract providing to the contrary, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship for any reason that is not contrary to law. McNeil v. Charlevoix Cty., 772 N.W.2d 18, 24 (Mich. 2009). Under Michigan's Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, an employer may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of a disability or genetic information that is unrelated to the individual's ability to perform the duties of a particular job or position. Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.1202.

Michigan recognizes exceptions for a wrongful discharge claim when an employee's termination clearly violates public policy. Suchodolski v. Mich. Consol. Gas Co., 316 N.W.2d 710, 711-12 (Mich. 1982). The three recognized public-policy exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine are as follows:

  • explicit legislative statements prohibiting the discharge, discipline, or other adverse treatment of employees who act in accordance with a statutory right or duty (e.g., the Civil Rights Act, the Whistleblowers' Protection Act, and the Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act),
  • where the alleged reason for the discharge was the failure or refusal of the employee to violate a law in the course of employment (e.g., refusal to falsify pollution reports; refusal to give false testimony before a legislative committee; refusal to participate in a price-fixing scheme), and
  • where the reason for the discharge was the employee's exercise of a right conferred by a well-established legislative enactment (e.g., retaliation for filing workers' compensation claims).

Smith v. Town & Country Properties II, Inc., 338 Mich. App. 462, 476, 980 N.W.2d 131, 138 (2021), appeal denied, 509 Mich. 1086, 975 N.W.2d 928 (2022).

Right-to-Work Law

In Michigan, an employee's affiliation with a labor organization cannot affect obtaining or continuing employment. Employees cannot be required to join, remain in, resign from, or refrain from joining a labor organization as a condition of 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 establish employment policies, programs, procedures, or work rules about the use of alcoholic liquor or the illegal use of drugs. Mich. Comp. Laws § 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 (or agent of the 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. Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.1348.

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 (i) any number of hours during a day which, if added to the number of hours which the employee spent on jury duty, exceeds the number of hours normally worked by the employee during a day; or ii) the number of hours normally worked by the employee if it would result in the employee working past the employee's normal quitting time. Id.  

Voting Leave

Michigan does not have a law that 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 vote. Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.931(1)(d).

Parental Leave

Michigan does not have a law that requires employers to offer to its employees paid or unpaoid parental leave. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for specified medical or family reasons under certain circumstances. 29 U.S.C. § 2601.

Paid Leave

Michigan's Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA), effective March 29, 2019, requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with paid medical leave to use for their own or their family members' medical needs and for purposed related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and public health emergencies. The employer is presumed to have complied with PMLA if it provides at least 40 hours of paid leave to an eligible employee each benefit year. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.963.

Other Leave

Michigan law does not require private employers to provide employees with vacation, bereavement, or sick leave, either paid or unpaid, except as provided in the Paid Leave section above. 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 FMLA and its requirements. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.473.

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 lit 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 (i) to post No Smoking signs at the entrances to and in every building or work area covered by the smoking ban; (ii) remove all ashtrays and other smoking paraphernalia from any work area covered by the smoking ban; (iii) inform any employee or other who is smoking in violation of the law that they are violating state law and are subject to penalties for doing so; and (vi) if applicable, refuse to serve an individual smoking in violation of the law. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.12601 et seq.

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), which requires covered employers to provide non-exempt nursing mothers with reasonable rest breaks to express milk and private spaces, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk, up to one year after the birth of a child.

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.

Minor Employees

Minor employees – those under the age of 18 – may work no more than 10 hours per day with a limit of 48 hours per week while school is not in session. When school is in session, minor employees can work a maximum of 24 hours per week. Minors 16 and older cannot work between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. during a school week and cannot work after 11:30 p.m. otherwise. Minors under sixteen cannot work until 3 p.m. during a school week and cannot work between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.110-11.

Minor employees must be given a 30-minute break after every five continuous hours of work. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.112.

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. 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 in session. If school is in session, they may work up to 24 hours per week. Mich. Comp. Laws § 409.111.

Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Wage Recordkeeping

Since 2014, Michigan's minimum wage has increased annually in set increments. For the calendar year of 2023, the minimum wage is $10.33 per hour. These increases end with a minimum wage of $12.05 in calendar year 2030, or a subsequent calendar. These annual increases take effect unless Michigan's unemployment rate is 8.5% or higher in the calendar year preceding the change. If a prescribed increase does not occur due to 8.5% or higher unemployment, the scheduled increases begin again after the first calendar year that Michigan's unemployment rate drops below 8.5%. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.934.

The minimum wage for minors and tipped employees differs from the above statutory prescription. For employees 18 years or younger, the minimum wage is 85% of the statutory rate detailed above, which is $8.78 for 2023. For tipped employees, the minimum wage is 38% of the above. For 2023, the tipped employee minimum wage is $3.93. If a tipped employee does not reach the full statutory minimum hourly wage via tips, the employer must pay the employee the difference. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.934(d).

Michigan overtime law requires that non-exempt employees receive overtime compensation equal to one and one-half of their regular hourly compensation for any hours worked more than 40 in a week. This compensation can come in the form of one and one-half of the employee's regular pay or via a time-off award at one and one-half hour for every hour over forty worked. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.934(d). 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 that 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, and 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 discharged all wages earned and due as soon as the amount due can be determined. Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.475.

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 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

Workers' Compensation

In Michigan, employers (not to include agricultural employers), with three or more employees at any time, or one employee working 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer during a 52-week period, must carry workers' compensation insurance, which provides wage replacement, medical, and rehabilitation benefits to employees who experience a work-related illness or injury. There are certain limited exceptions, including some farmworkers 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.

Firearm Laws

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

Additional Laws and Regulations

Equal pay

The Michigan Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from failing or refusing to hire or recruit, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against individuals with respect to employment, compensation, or a term, condition, or privilege of employment, or limit, segregate, or classify an employee or applicant for employment in a way that deprives or tends to deprive the employee or applicant of an employment opportunity or otherwise adversely affects the status of the employee or applicant because of their religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, 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 Marihuana Act (the Act), which offers medical marijuana registration cards for patients with debilitating medical conditions. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26423. The Act does not permit any person to engage in a task under the influence of marijuana when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26427(b)(1). Employers are not required to accommodate the consumption of marijuana in the workplace or allow an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.26427(c)(2).

Michigan authorizes recreational marijuana use pursuant to the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana 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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