Democratic Reps Introduce Empowering Employees Bill Package

Bills would create protections for Michigan’s workforce
Thursday, December 6, 2018

LANSING — Today, state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) introduced the Empowering Employees bill package, which contains proposals to address a wide array of occupational challenges faced by working families and businesses across the state. Several other House Democrats joined Rep. Hammoud for the package, which arrives on the heels of legislative Republicans passing two bills to gut the pro-worker, citizen-led ballot initiatives that were passed into law in September.

“As legislators, it is our responsibility to empower our hardworking residents as they contribute to the creation of a more prosperous economy,” said Hammoud. “Too often big businesses act in the best interest of their shareholders at the expense of their employees. By expanding employee protections and increasing benefit compensation, we will ensure that a hard day’s work can be completed effectively in a way that protects our working families.”

This bill package would:

  • Require severance pay to be paid to employees terminated as a result of a branch or factory shutdown, relocation, or mass layoff (HB 6588 – Hammoud).
  • Clarify that severance pay would not conflict with UIA benefits (HB 6589 – Hertel).
  • Require that employees be granted leave time on any Election Day to vote (HB 6590 – Wittenberg).
  • Guarantee employees the opportunity to take a ten minute rest period during their respective shift (HB 6591 – Gay-Dagnogo).
  • Requires a 30-minute meal period for employees whose shifts extend beyond five hours (HB 6592 – Greig).
  • Provide an income tax credit to businesses offering apprenticeships within the skilled trades (HB 6593 – Clemente).
  • Allow employees to request shift schedule changes based on circumstances of health-related needs, caregiver responsibilities, or furthering education within their respective career field (HB 6594 – Camilleri).

“As we've seen in the news lately, employees are too often terminated due to circumstances outside of their control, such as mass layoffs or branch shutdowns,” said state Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). “Through no fault of their own, these workers find themselves in unexpected financial hardship. I'm glad to continue the work we've started in ensuring Michigan families face protections during hard times.”

“Civic participation is one of the most consequential responsibilities held by constituents,” said state Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods). “Unfortunately, many workers are unable to vote due to scheduling conflicts with work shifts. My proposal ensures that every voter can truly make their voices heard and fully participate in the democratic process.”

“Occupational stress has consistently ranked among one of the leading causes of productivity lag,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit). “Compounded with external concerns about family or home life, occupational stress takes a toll on mental health well-being which prevents workers from effectively meeting work objectives and duties. By granting workers a brief rest period, this bill combats the effects of stress and increases worker productivity, benefiting employees and employers alike.”

“All too often, workers are given few opportunities to maintain levels of nutrition necessary to focus on their responsibilities. No employee deserves to have their workplace duties take place at the expense of their own personal wellbeing,” said state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills). “Alongside rest periods, guaranteed 30-minute meal periods — which my bill proposes — will provide workers with the chance to eat properly, maintain full alertness, and complete assigned tasks productively.”

“For many students and adults, four-year university degrees may not suit their financial or occupational interests,” said state Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park). “Skilled trades workers have never been needed more in Michigan, apprenticeships are a viable alternative to the traditional university education. Additionally, businesses would directly benefit from offering educational programs to prospective trades workers. My proposal would encourage businesses to offer apprenticeships in order to provide good-paying jobs for workers as well as to fulfill the occupational needs of employers.”

“One of the biggest challenges facing Michigan workers, particularly in the retail and food service industries, is unfair scheduling. Practices like last minute schedule changes, cutting shifts short, and keeping workers on-call make it nearly impossible for employees to take care of responsibilities at home,” said state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township). “My bill would afford workers more certainty in their schedules and paychecks so that they can care for sick loved ones, pick up their children from daycare, or balance a monthly budget. Especially after this week, Michigan's working families deserve a win. Fairer scheduling would be just that."

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