April 29, 2021
Media Contact: Jason Moon, 517-282-0041
The State's Return-to-Office Workgroup has provided Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with their recommendations for how employers can begin to plan for a safe, phased reopening of offices. The group consisting of business, labor and public health experts, was established on March 15, and has acted quickly to develop concise recommendations regarding Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) polices and additional guidance and best practices to help employers plan for a return to in-person office work.
"Workers and their safety are our top priority," said Michigan COVID-19 Workplace Safety Director Sean Egan. "We have taken a proactive approach to listen and collect feedback from a wide array of stakeholders, as we try to address challenges and concerns of employers who are looking to align their reopen plans with health guidance and safety rules."
In addition to encouraging employers to be transparent and communicate frequently with employees on phased return-to-office plans, the workgroup's key recommendations also include:
Employers - Reducing Office Density:
Employers - Addressing Operational Obstacles:
Employers - Quarantine, Isolation and Testing Guidelines:
Employers - Caregiving Resources for Employees:
Employers - Vaccines:
These recommendations come at a time when workplace safety remains a concern. As reported to MDHHS by local public health departments, office workplaces had 385 COVID-19 outbreaks from September 3, 2020 through April 22, 2021, making office settings the fifth highest for outbreaks among the 22 settings being reported. This data demonstrates the need for a strong partnership between diverse stakeholders and subject matter experts who can help develop a phased return-to-office work strategy that ensures the protection of Michiganders.
"As a small business owner, I appreciate the commitment, dedication and strategic planning that the Whitmer Administration has shown," said Tameka Ramsey, owner, T. Ramsey & Associates. "The LEO team has done an amazing job ensuring that all businesses are being heard and represented in creating policies on returning back to the office during this time. This group of experts has worked collectively to make sure that employees and customers are safe as we slowly reopen."
"I'm impressed by how well everyone worked together," Dr. Kate Birdsall, president, MSU Union of Nontenure-Track Faculty, AFT said. "Each member of the team brought valuable insight to our weekly meetings, where we collaborated to ensure the continued health and safety of Michiganders as the state prepares to reopen more fully."
The workgroup consulted a variety of data including MDHHS public health data, MIOSHA information, local economic impact data, and best practice information provided by members of the workgroup."
In addition to the workgroup's efforts on return-to-office work, LEO has recently held several feedback sessions with legislative leaders, small businesses and representatives from many business sectors including financial services, manufacturing, legal and insurance services.
The advisory group complements the collaborative work that MIOSHA and other state agencies are currently performing with businesses in the field. This work includes the MIOSHA Ambassador Program where over 3,700 businesses have been provided free education and one-on-one guidance to understand regulations on workplace safety.
To learn more about the efforts to support a safe reopening in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.