Cough up the money

New Michigan law requires Ferris offer paid sick leave to some student employees

A new Michigan law will allow some Ferris student employees to accrue paid sick leave.

Under the new law, businesses that employ more than 50 employees are required to give employees up to 40 hours of annual paid sick leave. Employees will earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours worked. However, there are several exemptions to the rule that make the vast majority of Ferris student employees ineligible.

Businesses are not required to give sick leave to employees who work less than an average of 25 hours per week throughout the calendar year. This means that Ferris is not required to provide sick leave to students who do not stay at their on-campus jobs through the summer.

According to Ferris Manager of Student Employment John Randle, Ferris is looking at extending sick leave accruement to anyone who averages 25 hours per week, even if it is just during the summer or academic year. Despite this making more students eligible, since students can only work a maximum of 26 hours during the academic year, only 18 out of about 2,300 student workers are eligible.

“What we said is, ‘Is it 52 weeks?’ But we actually went if your average, if you only worked in the summer, say you only worked 10 weeks but you averaged 25 hours, then we included those students,” Randle said.

To remain eligible, students working during the academic year would also need to work during breaks, such as spring and winter, in order to stay at or above 25 hours averaged. Randle said this primarily includes students working for TAC and on the grounds crews, which work through breaks, but it is also possible for students working in other areas that remain open, such as The Rock, to maintain eligibility.

Randle said Ferris is still working on a plan to allow students to use the sick leave they earn, and that it is an interesting situation because many students are earning their hours from multiple on-campus jobs.

Even if they aren’t currently eligible, many student workers are excited about the possibility of earning sick leave in the future and are happy that students working nearly the maximum amount of allowable hours are receiving additional benefits.

“If you’re working over 25 hours a week, that’s a lot, and if you’re taking 15 credits, that’s a lot to do. Living in such close quarters with hundreds of other people, it’s really easy to get sick, so I think this is really good and helpful,” Ferris psychology freshman and Quad Café employee Olivia Harvitt said.

Harvitt also said this would benefit students in food service who won’t feel pressured to attend work while sick. Harvitt believes the perks will likely encourage students working close to 25 hours per week to pick up more hours, which will help understaffed employers on campus.

Students working off campus are also excited about the new law, and because they are not limited to a maximum of 26 hours per week, many will have a better opportunity to qualify.

Ferris radiography freshman and Crankers Brewery employee Emma Stream believes that the law will help reduce the stress of students who get sick, and despite it being easier to receive these benefits working off-campus, she doesn’t think that it will decrease the number of students looking for on-campus employment.

“I think that this is good for students because we’re poor as it is. We spend so much on tuition, on bills we have to pay and other payments, and if there is an injury or sickness, that stresses students out even more. Having the benefits of paid leave will help take away some of the stressors,” Stream said.