DETROIT – As vaccinations ramp up there are still questions about when it is safe for office workers to head back into work.
On Tuesday, a group of business and health leaders laid the groundwork to answer that very question.
Many companies have been continuously pushing back return dates. That reflects a lot of the uncertainty remaining even with the vaccines.
Right now the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration order keeping offices largely closed expires in the middle of April. However, there could be an extension.
Many Michigan business groups, including chambers of commerce want employees back in the office. They also do not want an order extension and have urged the governor to seriously consider removing the order next month.
“Our expectation is we will be extending these rules because we still have COVID and we have to mitigate the spread of COVID in the workplace to protect the employees and create a safe work environment,” said Shawn Egan, Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety for Michigan.
The State of Michigan and in particular the governor’s advisory panel made up of business, union and medical professionals are stressing remote work policies but it’s entirely up to the employer.
“Employees can be in the office. Whether an employee is required to do so to create that policy by making a determination if an employee’s work can feasibly be completed remotely. If it cannot these employees can be required to come to the office,” said Egan.
There are a lot of questions about how this will continue to work and all the regular COVID social distancing and disinfection rules will continue to apply.
“You have to have the masking. If you can’t maintain social distancing employers should be considering physical barriers to help protect employees to the extent they can. You need to limit or eliminate congregation points, the kitchen and those types of things,” said Egan.