New Michigan Employer Requirements: COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and Training

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is one of the first states to identify rules for employers to clarify which safety requirements must be followed by all employers to protect employees from COVID-19. These rules went into effect immediately on October 14, 2020 and will be in place for six months.

These new emergency rules are required for all businesses that resume in-person work. These businesses must have a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide training to their employees on workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of personal protection equipment (PPE), steps workers must take to notify their employer of any symptoms of COVID-19, a suspected case of COVID-19, or a diagnosis of COVID-19, and procedures to follow to report unsafe working conditions.

In addition to the response plan and required training, businesses in certain industries, such as manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, restaurants and bars, and exercise facilities, are subject to further industry specific requirements for their workplaces.

Exposure Risk Determination for All Job Roles

Prior to creating the written COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, employers should evaluate each job role within their business to determine the exposure risk category.

  • Lower exposure risk: No contact with public or other workers.
  • Medium exposure risk: Contact with coworkers and/or the general public. Frequent and/or close contact (i.e., within 6 feet) with people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients.
  • High exposure risk: High potential for exposure to sources of COVID-19 (such as healthcare professionals, law enforcement, employees in nursing homes, medical transportation workers, mortuary workers, etc).
  • Very high exposure risk: Very high potential for exposure to known sources of COVID-19 during specific medical, postmortem or laboratory procedures (including healthcare, dental and morgue workers performing aerosol-generating procedures).

There is additional OSHA guidance available as additional resources for assisting with determining the exposure risk:

COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan

A written plan should be developed and implemented to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19. The plan should include details on risk determination for each job as described above as well as addressing the following:

  • Engineering Controls – things put in place to provide barriers between the worker and potential exposure to the virus. This can include things such as air filters, increased ventilation, physical barriers like plexiglass, etc.
  • Administrative Controls – Procedures and practices put in place such as staggered work schedule, teleworking, increased social distancing.
  • Hand hygiene and environmental surface disinfection – required regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment. This should include areas such as offices, common areas like breakrooms, bathrooms, any shared electronic equipment and other frequently touched surfaces.
  • Personal protective equipment – what PPE will be required. If an employee is in a high or very high exposure risk and will be in frequent or prolonged close contact with known or suspected cases of COVID-19, the employee must be provided with and wear, at a minimum, an N95 respirator.
  • Health surveillance – required screening protocols to identify known or suspected COVID-19 cases prior to the start of the work shift. Employees should be required to report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and should be sent home if a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 following current guidance from the CDC. If an employee has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, employers should let coworkers know of potential exposure while keeping the identity of the employee with the positive diagnosis confidential.
  • Training – all employers should provide training related to COVID-19 exposure prevention which should include how to report signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

The completed COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan should be made readily available to employees and their representatives. This can be done via website, internal network, or a hard copy provided to employees.

COVID-19 Safety Coordinator

Employers should designate at least one person as a COVID-19 safety coordinator. This individual (or individuals) will implement, monitor, and report on the COVID-19 control strategies required for the worksite. A COVID safety coordinator should be on-site at all times when employees are present.

Worksite Postings

Employers should place posters encouraging staying away from work when sick, proper hand hygiene practices, and cough and sneeze etiquette. These postings should be in languages common at your worksite.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers are required to maintain a record of all of the following for at least one year from the time of generation:

  • Training records
  • Screening Protocols for each employee or visitor entering the workplace
  • Records of Required Notifications including notifications associated to confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace

Additional Recommendations and Requirements for Specific Industries:

See the following links for additional requirements for specific industries:

Additional Resources

For additional information and guidance, please see the following:

Return to School and Emergency FMLA Leave

Due to the worldwide pandemic, this fall many schools are operating differently than they have in previous years with some schools operating fully in person, some fully remote, some a combination of the two, and some giving parents the choice between in person and remote learning. Employers may need to provide flexibility to their employees who have school aged children based on the operations of their child(ren)’s school.

Employers with less than 500 employees may be required to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their child in the form of emergency FMLA now required under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  This emergency FMLA requires covered employers to provide employees with 2/3 of their regular pay for the duration of their leave (a maximum of 12 weeks). Note: This pay is reimbursed to employers in the form of a payroll tax credit. More details about the FFCRA are available here: Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has recently provided some clarification as to when the emergency FMLA leave under the FFCRA applies based on the way an employee’s child’s school is operating.

Schools Operating Completely In Person

When schools are operating with full time in person instruction, parent employees are not eligible for any emergency FMLA under the FFCRA for childcare reasons.

Schools Operating In A Full Virtual Setting

When schools are operating completely virtually/remotely with no in person instruction, an employee may be eligible for emergency FMLA leave and up to 2/3 of their regular pay for up to 12 weeks (or until the child can return to in person schooling).

Schools Operating In a Hybrid Model (Part In Person / Part Virtual Learning)

When schools are operating in a hybrid model where students report in person for learning some days and other days do remote learning, employees are only eligible for emergency FMLA leave on the days that the child is required to do remote learning and is unable to physically attend school for face to face instruction. On the days the employee is physically in school, the employee should be able to work as scheduled.

Schools Offering Parent Choice Between In Person and Virtual Learning

When schools are allowing parents to chose whether they send their children to school for in person instruction or keep them home for virtual or remote learning, an employee would not be eligible for emergency FMLA leave regardless of which option they choose for their student. This is because the school is “open” for in person learning and therefore the employee’s child (or children) has the opportunity to attend school in person so that the employee can return to work.

There may be an exception to this under the regular FMLA (for companies with 50 or more employees) if a child has a health condition that would require them to not attend school and would require the employee/parent to stay home to care for the child. This would not be covered under the FFCRA however and would not require the employee to be paid for this time off.

Combined Limits

The FFCRA was passed in March, so some employees may have already used some or all of their 12 week allowance. For example, if an employee took 6 weeks off in the spring to care for their child (or children) who’s school closed due to COVID-19, they would only have 6 more weeks available now.

Documentation

Employers should have employees sign a statement confirming that their child does not have an option to attend in person schooling and therefore the employee is unable to work because no other childcare options exist due to the school closure.

What to Do If An Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, there are a number of steps you should take to ensure compliance with the various federal, state and local requirements. Detailed below some of the current recommendations for employers:

CDC Recommendations Continue reading

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security CARES Act

The federal government recently passed the CARES Act which contains a few options for employers related to COVID-19 relief. Below is a summary of the three main options included in the CARES Act including the Payroll Protection Program loans now available for small businesses. Continue reading

Preparing Your Workplace for the Coronavirus

The recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world has been in the news often the last few months, especially more recently since multiple people in the United States have now been diagnosed with the virus.  As an employer, there are a few things that you can do to protect your workforce and help prevent the spread of the virus in the event your employees are diagnosed, or exposed to someone who has been diagnosed, with the virus: Continue reading