Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new mask guidance and Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) May 15th Order modifying mask guidance, Michigan employers have struggled with how to reconcile the Order and CDC guidance with the Emergency Rules set by Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), which, up until today, required all employees to wear masks in the workplace.
Effective May 24, 2021, MIOSHA released revised Emergency Rules which are consistent with the MDHHS Order and CDC guidance. Effective immediately, employers are no longer required to have their fully vaccinated employees wear face coverings when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. Fully vaccinated means those individuals for whom two weeks have passed since the date of their last dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Any individuals who do not fall within this definition must continue to wear face coverings when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
Understanding that some safety strategies will work for some employers but will not work for others, MIOSHA has provided employers with various options for compliance with the Emergency Rules.
Specifically, the revised Emergency Rules provide that employers may accomplish compliance with the revised requirements by:
- Keeping records of whether employees are fully vaccinated, and exempting them from the masks and social distancing requirements;
- Posting signs in the work area reminding employees that are not fully vaccinated to wear face coverings and maintain appropriate distancing;
- Allowing or requiring remote work; or
- Requiring face coverings and social distancing for all employees regardless of vaccination status.
In addition to the changes relating to fully vaccinated individuals, the revised Emergency Rules incorporate several other revisions, including, among others:
- Elimination of the prohibition on in-person work;
- Elimination of industry-specific requirements; and
- Elimination of the requirement to notify the local public health department upon a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
Due to these revised Emergency Rules, it is likely that many employers will need to revisit and modify their COVID-19 Response Plan to account for the various changes. Employers with questions about how the revised Emergency Rules will impact their workforces and operations going forward are encouraged to contact a Kerr Russell labor and employment attorney to discuss any necessary changes and recommended options.
About the authors:
Mark C. Knoth chairs the firm’s Labor, Employment, Employee Benefits & ERISA Practice Group. He counsels and advises business owners, managers and human resources professionals on workplace issues. These include civil rights and anti-discrimination laws; employee discipline; wage and hour; overtime; employee leaves; reasonable accommodations; veterans issues; picketing; secondary boycotts; reductions in force; drug testing; unemployment compensation; affirmative action; and union organizing campaigns, among other matters. He additionally drafts employee policies, handbooks, contracts, and covenants not to compete, and investigates threats of violence, allegations of harassment, and other employee misconduct.
Olivia V. Hankinson counsels and advises business owners, managers and human resources professionals on various labor and employment related issues. These often involve concerns which may implicate employment laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act. Olivia represents employers with respect to unemployment insurance hearings, MIOSHA violation allegations, EEOC investigations, and other employment law matters. She also drafts employee handbooks, employment agreements, restrictive covenants, and various other employment policies.
Other posts to consider:
Practice AreasLabor, Employment, Employee Benefits and ERISA