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Publications | September 21, 2018
3 minute read

HR Focus – News Digest – Summer 2018

Recreational Marihuana and Mandatory Paid Sick Leave on Michigan Ballot 

Employers should monitor these two initiatives:

MI Time to Care (Paid Sick Leave)

Employees would accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The leave can be used for self-care or care for family members, as well as by victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who miss work due to medical care, counseling, legal proceedings or relocation. Businesses with 10 or more workers would be required to provide at least 72 hours of earned sick time per year. Smaller employers would have to provide up to 40 hours. Michigan law currently does not require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Coalition to Regulate Marihuana Like Alcohol

Michigan residents 21 and older could legally possess, use, grow and sell marihuana for recreational uses. If passed, there would be a 10% state excise tax on marihuana sold by retailers with revenues allocated to public schools, roads, municipalities and counties. Michigan law currently only allows marihuana for medicinal purposes.

New NLRB Guidance Regarding Handbook Rules

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel has issued guidance on employee handbook rules following a recent decision by the NLRB. The guidance seeks to balance the employer’s interests against an employee’s right to engage in protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

Rules now will be categorized as follows: (1) rules that are generally lawful to maintain; (2) rules that warrant individualized scrutiny; and (3) rules that are plainly unlawful to maintain. The guidance discusses a number of common workplace policies and puts them into the three groupings.

Under the new guidance and the recent NLRB decision, a rule is no longer unlawful merely because it could be interpreted as prohibiting protected activities. Employers may wish to review and revise their handbooks to take advantage of the NLRB’s more employer-friendly position.

Can Employers Use the Insurer-Issued Certificate of Coverage Booklet as the Summary Plan Description? - Stephanie Grant

Clients frequently ask us if the booklet their insurer or third party administrator (TPA) provides them that describes the client’s benefit program can be used as the program’s ERISA summary plan description (SPD). For example, the carrier that provides the client’s insured health benefits typically provides a “certificate of coverage” that describes what the health plan does and does not cover. Much more often than not, the booklet usually cannot serve as the ERISA-required SPD on its own. ERISA requires that SPDs include certain specific information, and the insurer—or TPA—provided booklet usually does not contain all of the necessary details. Among the information ERISA requires to be in the SPD is plan-identifying information, descriptions of eligibility, benefits and circumstances causing loss of benefits, claims procedures and a statement of ERISA rights. The insurer or TPA-provided booklet is often missing meaningful details about eligibility or circumstances causing loss of benefits. Clients may want to consider using a separate “wrap” document that fills in the blanks, so that when the “wrap” document is combined with the insurer-provided booklet, all the ERISA SPD requirements are met.