Michigan announces updated workplace rules as employees return to in-person work

Gov. Whitmer announces new MIOSHA rules for returning to workplace

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a May 24, 2021, briefing about employees returning to in-person work. (WDIV)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke Monday about the steps and rules residents will have to follow as they return to in-person work across the state.

On May 10, Michigan surpassed the milestone of 55% of people ages 16 and up receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, in-person work was set to resume two weeks later: today, May 24.

Busy week of Michigan COVID news: Whitmer’s restaurant photo, new restrictions, returning to work

Whitmer spoke from a Grand Rapids business Monday to outline MIOSHA’s rules for returning to the workplace.

“Back in October 2020, MIOSHA issued emergency COVID rules, laying out specific mitigation measures, helping businesses keep patrons and their workplace safe,” Whitmer said. “These emergency rules had an expiration date of October 2021, meaning they would expire automatically unless formalized into permanent rules.”

Whitmer said five months later, a lot has changed thanks to the effectiveness of vaccines and how much the state’s COVID numbers have dropped.

“Thanks to Michiganders who got their shots, all employees can return to work in person, effective today,” Whitmer said.

MIOSHA has removed the requirement that employers must create a “policy prohibiting in-person work for employees to the extent that their work activities can feasibly be completed remotely.”

MIOSHA has also rescinded the draft permanent COVID-19 rules, and the public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, May 26 is canceled.

“As we work with the administration to get back to normal, protecting Michigan workers on the job remains the top priority for MIOSHA,” said Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “These updated emergency rules will give workers and businesses the clarity and confidence they need to bring our economy back to full-strength.”

Rule changes

Employers can now allow fully vaccinated employees to work without face coverings or social distancing, as long as they have a policy to make sure non-vaccinated employees continue to wear masks and follow social distancing.

Workplace rules have been updated to eliminate industry-specific requirements and instead will more clearly reflect changes in close contact and quarantining requirements for fully vaccinated employees.

Whitmer said restaurants and bars can choose to reopen common areas, such as pool tables and dance floors.

Cleaning requirements have been updated to meet recommendations from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Employers should continue to uphold a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, MIOSHA officials said.

“These slimmed-down emergency rules will ensure Michigan workers feel safe at work, and our shared prosperity depends on the confidence and safety of our workers, and that’s why it’s so important that we get this right,” Whitmer said.

These updated rules were filed Friday (May 21) and took effect Monday (May 24).

They are set to expire Oct. 14, but that date can change based on circumstances.

“I know that after all the sacrifice and pain that people have felt and businesses felt from March 2020, we are now ready to get back and ready to take Michigan to the next level,” Whitmer said.

You can read the full MIOSHA rules below.

More from Whitmer

“We’ve made remarkable progress in our battle with COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to vaccines, life is really starting to get back to normal now.”

Whitmer said more than 60% of eligible adults have gotten their shots nationwide, including over 57% of Michiganders.

She said unemployment in Michigan is down to 4.9%, which is a full percentage point below the national average.

“In the past year, unemployment has fallen by nearly 80%, and we’ve added 968,000 jobs over the last year,” Whitmer said.

There’s still work to do, she said, but the economic recovery is going well.

“Michigan and America are coming back, and we’re going to come back stronger than ever,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer recapped the new “MI Vacc To Normal” steps that will remove Michigan’s COVID restrictions in two steps on June 1 and July 1. You can read all about those details here.

“We continue to move toward normalcy as more and more Michiganders get vaccinated,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “The updated CDC guidelines demonstrate just how safe and effective the COVID-19 vaccine truly is and how well it is working.”

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.