Groups submit signatures for Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Leave Ballot Initiatives; Chamber Opposed

June 3, 2018

Organizers of ballot proposals to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and mandate paid sick leave submitted signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections, signaling their intent to make the November ballot. 

The Michigan Chamber is opposed to both ballot proposals.  The first line of defense will be to verify whether proponents collected the required 252,523 valid voter signatures in a 180-day window to make the ballot. 

Minimum Wage

The Chamber is opposed to efforts to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour or more. This proposal would result in our state having one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country, thereby making Michigan uncompetitive in the race for jobs. Michigan's minimum wage already outpaces Indiana ($7.25), Illinois ($8.25), Ohio ($8.10) and Wisconsin ($7.25).  This proposal would force many employers to make tough business decisions, including cutting back staffing hours, increasing costs and reducing other investments in employees or the business.

Paid Sick Leave

The paid sick leave ballot proposal would allow employees working for businesses with 10 or more employees would accrue a minimum of one hour of “earned sick time” (paid sick leave) for every 30 hours worked.  Employees would be entitled to use 72 hours in a year unless the employer selects a higher limit.   The rules for small businesses, defined as less than 10 employees working during a given week (including part-time, full-time and temporary workers), would be slightly different. These employees would accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees would be entitled to use 40 hours in a year unless the employer selects a higher limit. If the employee uses more than 40 hours, the employee would be entitled to use an additional 32 hours of unpaid earned sick time.

Only a small handful of states currently have a statewide paid sick leave mandate on the books.  As written, the ballot proposal would place severe compliance burdens on employers, including those with paid leave policies currently in place.  The ballot proposal is a legal landmine, creating an unprecedented rebuttable presumption for adverse personnel actions and numerous avenues for lawsuits, fines and damages.

The next step for both ballot proposals is a review by the Secretary of State and the Board of State Canvassers (“Board”).  If the Board determines either group has sufficient signatures and certifies the proposal, the Legislature will have 40 days to adopt the proposal as written (no changes), reject the proposal and send the question to the voters, or do nothing and send the proposal to the voters.  The Legislature can also put a competing question on the ballot. 

We will keep you posted on the status of these important proposals.  Please contact Wendy Block with any questions at wblock@michamber.com.