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Michigan Releases New COVID-19 Workplace Guidance

May 26, 2021

On May 24th, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) released new emergency rules (the Rules) that replace the existing emergency rules.  The new Rules will remain in effect until October 14, 2021.  Consistent with the “Vacc to Normal” Plan and CDC guidance, the new Rules make it easier for employers to return people to in-person work.  The highlights of the new Rules include: 

  • The prior Rules required employers to have and enforce a policy prohibiting in-person work that could feasibly be done remotely. The new Rules eliminate that requirement. 
  • The new Rules incorporate a number of changes to definitions and procedures to sync with the CDC guidance. For example, while the prior Rules specifically defined “close contact,” the new Rules incorporate the CDC definition “at the time of contact.”  This change will allow the Rules to keep pace with changing CDC guidance.
  • Under the new Rules, fully vaccinated employees are no longer required to socially distance or wear face coverings indoors in the workplace (with exceptions in the healthcare setting and while using public transportation). Unvaccinated employees must continue to wear face coverings and socially distance to the maximum extent feasible.
  • Finally, the additional requirements for various industries under the old Rules have been abolished.

Importantly, several existing safeguards remain in the new Rules.  Among other things, employers must continue daily health screenings (even for fully vaccinated employees), send symptomatic employees home or to an isolated location, perform contact tracing when there is a known case of COVID-19, train employees, and maintain records of trainings and health screenings.  Notably, the training provided to employees must now include information about the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Michigan guidance with regard to worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is complex and subject to change.  If you have questions about this or any other workforce issue, please contact your relationship attorney or one of Honigman’s Labor and Employment attorneys.

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