June 16, 2021

Volume XI, Number 167

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Michigan Extends COVID-19 Restrictions, Keeping Certain Workers Home for Six More Months

On April 12, 2021, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) would extend the sunset date for the state’s COVID-19 emergency rules, which were set to expire on April 14, 2021, for six more months.

Included in the emergency rules is a controversial remote-work policy rule that requires Michigan employers to direct employees to work at home “to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.” Attempting to define “feasibly,” MIOSHA has stated in the past that obstacles such as economic challenge, lack of efficiency, and technological limitations are inadequate reasons for bringing employees back to the workplace.

In her announcement, Governor Whitmer said, “I know that when we do extend [the emergency rules], which we will, people are going to think that that means you can’t go into the office for another six months, and that’s not the case.” She added that the state is working with business community leaders as well as public health experts to understand what a “back-to-work cadence looks like” and when a return may be possible.

In the meantime, the State of Michigan requires employers to continue to comply with the emergency rules and MIOSHA’s COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines.

As such, employers in Michigan may want to continue to analyze their office workforces and determine which employees can feasibly work remotely and why some employees may be required for in-person work. Employers may also want to be prepared to show their analyses in the event that MIOSHA knocks on the door. Production workers, retail employees, and other employees whose work cannot be performed remotely are not subject to the MIOSHA rule.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 106
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About this Author

Valerie N. Butera Labor & Employment Attorney Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart Detroit, MI
Of Counsel

Valerie Butera has focused her legal career on the representation of employers and trade associations in workplace safety and health matters.  She has extensive experience, both in private practice and in-house, working with a wide range of industries including automotive, chemical and petrochemical, oil refining, electric utility, manufacturing, construction, railway, grain refining, retail, hospitality, health care, and food services.  She litigates OSHA cases before state and federal agencies, courts and federal appellate courts and provides comprehensive OSHA counseling.

Valerie...

248-723-6122
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