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May 2020

Executive Order 2020-77 Emphasizes the State’s Requirement for COVID-19 Specific Preparedness Plan to Protect In-Person Workers

It should now be clear to business owners that a return to in-person work will require employers in Michigan, as well as much of the rest of the country, to implement a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan prior to workers returning to in-person work. These plans are mandated regardless of the type of work the business performs and require businesses to take a hard look at the many routine processes which transpire daily at the office or in the field, implement a plan to make them safer, and to document those processes. Mundane break room cleaning and capacity policies are now critically important to ensure the health and well-being of your workforce.

As Michigan’s stay-at-home orders are revised, Governor Whitmer, through Executive Order 2020-77, has continued the phased easing of restrictions on certain businesses, which now include workers:

a. who process or fulfill remote orders for goods for delivery or curbside pick-up;
b. who perform bicycle maintenance or repair;
c. in garden stores, nurseries, and lawn care, pest control, and landscaping operations;
d. in moving or storage operations;
e. who perform work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors, including but not limited to forestry workers, outdoor power equipment technicians, parking enforcement workers, and outdoor workers at places of outdoor recreation not otherwise closed under Executive Order 2020-69 or any order that may follow from it;
f. in the construction industry, including workers in the building trades (plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and similar workers);
g. in the real-estate industry, including agents, appraisers, brokers, inspectors, surveyors, and registers of deeds;
h. who are necessary to the manufacture of goods that support workplace modification to forestall the spread of COVID-19 infections; and,
i. who are necessary to train, credential, and license first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics) and health-care workers, including certified nursing assistants.

The full text of Order 2020-77 can be read here. Additionally, as of May 11, 2020, workers necessary to perform manufacturing activities will also be able to resume work at their plant locations. All employers identified in this and in previous orders must adhere to certain guidelines and restrictions on in-person activity. Chief amongst these guidelines is the requirement that all employers re-opening their businesses must have a written “COVID-19 preparedness and response plan,” and must have such a plan available at their office or headquarters. Should visitors be screened for fever? Should the office coffee machine be moth-balled? These questions and more are front-line considerations in protecting your workforce from the pandemic. Failure to take such stock and document a plan is not only careless and dangerous, but is also criminal, as failure to have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan is a misdemeanor. 

Within three weeks of the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case in Michigan, the attorneys at Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC have been developing company specific COVID-19 preparedness and response plans for their clients. The FBMJ approach takes into account the unique sectors, workforce and work environments individual to their respective clients, and tailors a plan to meet that company’s specific needs at locations ranging from south Texas to northern Michigan. FBMJ is ready to assist businesses now free to return to in-person operations.

We also can assist with evaluating and documenting whether particular work qualifies for in-person work under exceptions to the latest Order. To those businesses not yet released to resume in-person work, that day will come, and likely sooner than you may anticipate. Infectious disease control plans, whether due to Covid-19 or otherwise are here to stay. To help your business maintain compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-77, and related orders, you may contact one of the attorneys listed below: 

Rich Baron 
Ben Fruchey
Nick Tatro