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New Michigan Executive Order Updates Workplace Rules

August 11, 2020
Labor and Employment Advisory

EO 2020-166On August 7, 2020 Governor Whitmer signed an executive order updating protections for employees who stay home from work when they or one of their close contacts has symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for the disease. The new order, EO 2020-166, rescinds and replaces EO 2020-36.

Like the previous order, EO 2020-166 prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining or otherwise retaliating against an employee who stays home when he or she is at particular risk of infecting others. Important updates are summarized below:

  • Employers may now require documentation from the local health department that an employee is under an order or quarantine or isolation.
  • The list of principal symptoms, which may cause an employee to quarantine or isolate, has been updated to reflect new guidance from the CDC. COVID-19 principal symptoms now include fever, sore throat, a new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, new onset of severe headache and new loss of taste or smell.
  • Close contact is defined as being within six feet of an individual for 15 minutes or more.
  • Time periods for quarantine and isolation are updated to reflect recent CDC guidance. EO 2020-166 states that:
    • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should remain in their homes until:
      • 24 hours have passed since the resolution of their fever;
      • 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared or since they were swabbed for a test that yielded the positive result; and
      • other symptoms have improved.
    • Individuals who display one or more of the principal symptoms of COVID-19 (and are awaiting test results) should stay in their homes until:
      • 24 hours have passed since the resolution of their fever;
      •  10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared; and
      • other symptoms have improved or they receive a negative COVID-19 test
    • All people who have had close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or with an individual who displays symptoms of the virus should remain at their homes until either 14 days have passed since the last close contact or the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test. This section does not apply to health care professionals and those working in a health care facility, first responders, CPS employees, childcare employees, adult foster care employees and workers at correctional facilities.

As before, employers must allow employees to stay home from work for the time periods described above. Employers must treat a quarantining or isolating employee as if he or she was taking medical leave under Michigan's Paid Medical Leave Act, MCL 408.961. Employers are permitted, but not required, to debit the time away from work against the employee's accrued leave. If the employee has no paid leave, the leave may be unpaid.

For businesses under 500 employees covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Emergency Paid Sick Leave may be available to cover all or part of the employee's absence. FFCRA leave is not available if the employee is able to work remotely from home during his or her quarantine or isolation. Please see Varnum's client advisory on FFCRA for more information.

Please contact any member of Varnum's labor and employment team for assistance in understanding how these updates may affect your workplace. 

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