Remote Work Still Required Amid Covid-19 Surge in Michigan

As expected with the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has extended its emergency rules for six months.

Recently, I have been receiving numerous calls from clients asking if they can require employees to return to in person work.  Some clients asked if they could at least return those workers who are now fully vaccinated.

The short answer is no, not if the work the employers are doing can “feasibly be completed remotely.” Rule 5 (8). Unless the order is withdrawn, remote work whenever feasible will continue to be the rule through Oct. 14. 

Employers need to remember that, even if your entire workforce has received the COVID vaccination, it is not 100% effective and with the COVID variants now dominating the cases in Michigan, the vaccinations, regardless of manufacturer, may be less effective than originally predicted.

Bottom line, if an employee has been performing their job from home and has been doing a reasonably good job at completing their tasks, they should continue to do so. It is not just for the safety of your workforce it remains the law and MIOSHA has been stepping up its enforcement. Should you question the enforcement of these rules, MIOSHA posts COVID-19 Citations on its “dashboard.

While my primary purpose in writing this article is reinforcing the remote work rule, all of the Emergency Rules - Coronavirus Disease 2019 remain effective through mid-October. That means that employers must maintain all of the requisite safety measures until then, including those required to be in their preparedness and response plan (administrative controls, basic infection/prevention measures, providing personal protective equipment, health surveillance of worker, training, etc.). 

These measures are important for the health and safety of workers who must perform their duties in the workplace, including those who work with the public.

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