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New COVID-19 Orders Impose Additional Requirements and Restrictions on Michigan Businesses

November 16, 2020

In light of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, governmental agencies in charge of workplace safety and public health have issued several directives and guidance to employers and businesses in the hope of curtailing the spread of the virus.

MDHHS November 15, 2020 Emergency Order

On November 15, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued the latest Gathering and Face Mask Order, which substantially tightened the restriction on gatherings. The order becomes effective on November 18, 2020, and remains in effect until December 8, 2020. In summary, this order:

MIOSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Rules and Additional Clarifications of Remote Work Requirements

On October 14, 2020, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) issued Emergency Rules regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019, which are in effect for six months and establish requirements for employers to control, prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These requirements mirror those set out in the Governor's safe start orders that were rendered invalid by the Michigan Supreme Court's recent decision. Among others, employers are required to:

On November 4, 2020, MIOSHA issued an Interim Enforcement Plan to establish the procedures for the agency to investigate and issue citations for workplace hazards related to COVID-19. The interim plan indicates that an employer's failure to implement a remote work policy would be deemed by MIOSHA as a "serious" violation, and lack of the existence of a policy would be cited as "other-than serious" violation of the October 14, 2020 Emergency Rules.   

On November 6, 2020, the MDHHS issued guidance entitled "Keeping A Safe Workplace," which reinforced the remote work requirement established by MIOSHA's October 14 emergency. In addition, the guidance provides clarification concerning the requirement by employers to prohibit in-person work to the extent work activities can feasibly be completed remotely. Under this guidance, "employers should only permit in-person work when attendance is strictly required to perform job duties," which means that "a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks from a remote setting." The MDHHS clarifies that this strict requirement does not mean allowing in-person work to limit inefficiency, unproductivity, or costs associated with remote work.

If you have questions about these new developments, please contact your Miller Canfield attorney or the authors of this alert.

This information is based on the facts and guidance available at the time of publication and may be subject to change.