On November 5, 2020, Governor Whitmer introduced that the Michigan Occupational Security and Well being Administration (MIOSHA) could be rising enforcement of the MIOSHA Emergency Guidelines on COVID-19 (Emergency Guidelines), with a particular give attention to selling extra distant work for workplaces. Recall that MIOSHA issued the Emergency Guidelines on October 14, 2020, following the Michigan Supreme Courtroom’s ruling towards the Governor on October 2, 2020.
In accordance with the Governor, MIOSHA might be implementing a brand new state emphasis program for workplace work. The aim of this system might be educating employers on compliance with COVID-19 tips and guidelines, and inspiring extra distant work. As well as, MIOSHA might be rising scrutiny of distant work insurance policies required by Emergency Rule 5(8), which states that each one employers should “create a coverage prohibiting in-person work for workers to the extent that their work actions can feasibly be accomplished remotely.” The elevated enforcement efforts may end in extra in-person inspections by MIOSHA. The brand new program and elevated enforcement efforts are anticipated to start someday subsequent week.
The next day, on November 6, 2020, the Michigan Division of Well being and Human Companies (MDHHS) launched new steerage for employers. The MDHHS steerage, issued on the subject of the MIOSHA Emergency Guidelines, states that “employers ought to solely allow in-person work when attendance is strictly required to carry out job duties.” The steerage goes on to state that this “strict requirement” ought to “not be construed as allowing in-person work solely as a result of working remotely might end in decreased productiveness or effectivity” or “as a result of there could also be further prices referring to performing work remotely.” Moderately, the steerage explains, this “strict requirement” signifies that in-person work is simply permitted when a employee is “unable to bodily full” his or her job duties in a distant setting.
It will be important for employers to notice that this steerage displays the State’s present interpretation of prior MIOSHA and MDHHS Orders and is topic to alter. Nonetheless, steerage posted on a state web site is just not itself legally binding. Employers are obligated to comply with the necessities of the MIOSHA and MDHHS Orders unbiased of this steerage.
Failure to adjust to the MIOSHA Emergency Guidelines might end in a number of penalties for Michigan companies. Beneath Part 35 of the Michigan Occupational Security and Well being Act, MIOSHA has the authority to quote employers, require abatement, and positive employers as much as $7,000 for failing to supply a distant work coverage, or if an employer’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan fails to adjust to the Emergency Guidelines. In mild of the forthcoming enforcement efforts and the penalties related with non-compliance, Michigan companies ought to assessment their COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans for compliance with the Emergency Guidelines, and put together a distant work coverage in accordance with Emergency Rule 5(8) and taking into account the brand new MDHHS steerage.
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