MDHHS Issues New Workplace Safety Guidance
On November 6, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released new guidance for employers concerning workplace safety. The MDHHS guidance, issued with reference to the MIOSHA Emergency Rules, highlights the elements of a safe work environment, including:
- Create a COVID preparedness plan that includes exposure determination procedures and details the measures that will be taken to reduce employee exposure
- Establish clear workplace procedure that includes a COVID–19 coordinator, mandates face coverings, ensures access to PPE, and trains employees on procedures & social distancing
- Conduct daily self–screening of staff working in person that includes assessments of symptoms of COVID–19 and excludes those who are symptomatic
- Strengthen workplace cleaning / disinfecting procedures so that it is done as frequently as possible and can be enhanced if a sick employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID–19
- Collaborate with Local Health Departments so that they will have the information necessary to conduct contact tracing if an employee contracts COVID–19
Lastly, the guidance stresses the need to allow employees to work from home if possible in order to minimize the presence of individuals in areas where COVID–19 may spread more easily. Employers should only permit in-person work if a worker is unable to physically complete required job tasks from a remote setting, such as food service or auto assembly workers, or a job involving protected data that cannot be accessed remotely.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issues an emergency public health order requiring masks and limiting gatherings
On Monday, October 5, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a public health emergency order re-establishing mask requirements, limitations on gatherings, and restaurant and bar restrictions through October 30.
The new order applies statewide, with some exceptions for facilities and operations in MI Safe Start Region 6, the Traverse City Region, which includes Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Crawford, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Presque Isle and Emmet counties.
The state health department expects to issue further orders regarding schools, nursing homes and congregate care in the coming days, according to MDHHS Director, Robert Gordon. He also added that the the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity may issue those in the coming days alongside workplace safety rules.
- Masks will be required in schools in every MI Safe Start region except the Traverse City region.
- People participating in organized sports must wear masks unless they are swimming or maintaining six feet of distance.
- At indoor gatherings of up to 10 people at a non-residential venue, people must wear face coverings.
Attendance limitations at gatherings
- Up to 500 people at an indoor non-residential venue, limited to 20% of the venue’s total capacity in most of the state and 25% of the venue’s total capacity in the Traverse City region, or 20 people per 1,000 square feet in most of the state and 25 people per 1,000 square feet in the Traverse City region.
- Up to 1,000 people at indoor non-residential venues, limited to 30% of normal capacity or 30 people per 1,000 square feet.
Those who violate the order are subject to a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $200, or both. Violators are also subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000.
Where does MDHHS derive its authority for this new order?
Under Act 368 of 1978, (MCL 333.2235), “If the (MDHHS) director determines that control of an epidemic is necessary to protect the public health, the director by emergency order may prohibit the gathering of people for any purpose and may establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services and enforcement of health laws. Emergency procedures shall not be limited to this code.”
This order is effective immediately and remains in effect through Friday, Oct. 30.
Michigan Supreme Court rules Governor Whitmer did not have authority to declare the state of emergency beyond April 30, 2020
On Friday, October 2, 2020 the Michigan Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision ruling the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act (EPGA) of 1945 unconstitutional and declaring that Governor Whitmer did not have authority to declare the state of emergency beyond April 30, 2020, the last date that the Legislature acted to authorize the declarations. The ruling concluded the 1945 Act violated the Michigan Constitution because it delegated to the executive branch the legislative powers of state government and allowed the executive branch to exercise those powers indefinitely.
1) UNCONTROLLED GROWTH: The increasing number of new cases every day, overwhelming our health systems.
2) PERSISTENT SPREAD: We continue to see high case levels with concern about health system capacity.
3) FLATTENING: The epidemic is no longer increasing and the health-system's capacity is sufficient for current needs.
4) IMPROVING: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining. ***Phase 4 is where we currently sit.***
5) CONTAINING: Continued case and death rate improvements, with outbreaks quickly contained.
6) POST-PANDEMIC: Community spread not expected to return.
Tools for Small Businesses and Self-Employed Individuals
- US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Emergency Loan Guide and Checklist
- Michigan businesses can now apply for paycheck protection program
- CARES Act Update For Small Business
- Paycheck Protection Program
- SBA Disaster Assistance
- Paycheck Protection Loans to be Available April 3, 2020
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act ( "CARES Act")
- Tools for our industry's self-employed individuals
- Benefits Increased for all Unemployed Workers, Expanded to Self-Employed and Low-Wage Workers
- New Filing Schedule is available online at Michigan.gov/UIA. or call (866)-500-0017
- Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Expediting Unemployment Benefits
- Information for Employees
- Information for Employers
Paid Sick Leave
- U.S. Dept. of Labor Releases Initial Guidance on Federal COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Protecting Workers Who Stay Home, Stay Safe When They or Their Close Contacts Are Sick
- Treasury: Business Taxpayers Can Pay Monthly, Quarterly Sales, Use and Withholding Tax in May
- Trump Moves the Federal Income Tax Filing Date to July 15, 2020
- Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order Changing City, State Income Tax Filing Deadlines to July 2020