Employee Rights

  1. What are my rights if my office should be closed under the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order but I am forced to come in?

An employer is prohibited from terminating an employee for refusing to violate a law in the course of the employee’s employment. Under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life is prohibited. Unless you have been designated by your employer as a critical infrastructure worker you cannot be compelled to work outside of your home. A willful violation of this executive order is a misdemeanor and should be reported to local law enforcement.​

  1. Can I be fired for refusing to come to work if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19?

Even if you have been designated as a critical infrastructure worker, you cannot be compelled to work if you have testified positive for COVID-19 and have been instructed by your medical care provider or public health authority to quarantine. During the quarantine period an employer should not require an employee to work outside of the employee’s home or work against physician’s orders. 

  1. What can I do if I believe my employer is not taking the proper precautions to protect employees from COVID-19 exposure?

In general, Michigan law requires employers to provide every employee with “a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee.” This includes providing employees with the necessary “personal protective equipment” (known as “PPE”) to protect them from the hazards they may be exposed to in the workplace. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) enforces workplace safety and health rules in the State of Michigan. 

  • If you are a Critical Infrastructure Worker and you believe your employer is failing to take the proper precautions in the workplace to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19, you can learn how to file a complaint with MIOSHA. You can also contact MIOSHA via the Ask MIOSHA link on the MIOSHA website, or call 800-866-4674 to ask COVID-19 questions or discuss your complaint (if you decide to file a safety or health complaint, online complaints are preferred; complaints are generally not accepted via telephone, unless it is an emergency). You may request that your name be kept confidential from the employer when you file a complaint. Michigan law separately prohibits your employer from firing you, or otherwise discriminating against you, for filing a complaint with MIOSHA. The agency will not pursue an anonymous complaint. 
  • If you are not considered a Critical Infrastructure Worker and you believe your workplace should be closed to the public, please contact your local law enforcement agency – but do NOT call 911.
  1. Can an employer pay its employees late if they are shut down or operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 or the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order?

Employees who have performed compensable work must be paid in accordance with the employer’s regular pay schedule. An employer cannot withhold pay that is due without the written authorization of the employee. If you believe your compensation has been unlawfully withheld, you may file a complaint with the Bureau of Employment Relations' Wage and Hour Division. Wage compensation can be filed online.

  1. Can an employer require an employee to stay out of work or make them leave work because they are too sick to work?

Yes, an employer can tell an employee not to come to work. An employer can also require an employee to leave work if they are sick. The employee must still be paid their regular wage for the hours they were at work before the employer sent them home. If employees are asked to stay home, they may apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Employees may also be eligible for paid sick leave under a new federal law – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). If an employee is eligible for emergency leave under the FFCRA, an employer may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer to the employee before the employee uses emergency paid leave under the FFCRA.

  1. Can an employer require an employee to stay out of work because the employee or one of their family members may have been exposed to COVID-19 but public health officials or healthcare providers have not recommended or required a quarantine?

Yes, an employer can tell an employee not to come to work. We encourage employers to allow employees to use earned sick time in this situation.   

  1. Do I need a pass to travel if I’ve been designated as a critical infrastructure worker under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order?

No. Under the Governor’s Order, a business must determine and inform employees if they are critical infrastructure workers. Those designations may be made verbally until March 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. After that time, businesses must make those designations in writing. Employees are not required to carry the written designation with them when they travel to or from work.