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Michigan Senate passes COVID-19 workplace bills

Michigan State Capitol on a cloudy day
Myesha Johnson

Some of Michigan’s COVID-19 workplace policies would be repealed under legislation passed Thursday in the state Senate.

The bills would end certain protections for employees who stay home because of COVID-related circumstances as well as liability protections for employers whose workers are exposed to the virus.

Senator Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) said some of those laws from 2020 no longer align with more relaxed current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“CDC has changed its rules so many times that we kind of lost track of what’s going on. So, the CDC has changed its guidance. It doesn’t match our laws, so the employers are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place right now,” Horn said.

He said that’s hard on employees, too, who may have to stay home from work longer than current CDC guidelines require.

“Instead of using the CDC guidance, they had our public health guidance. And so, just to avoid the confusion, avoid the frustration, we just said we’re going to repeal the law,” Horn said.

The legislation would end certain protections after July 1. It would repeal the “COVID Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act” entirely in July of next year to give time for existing claims to get processed.

Horn told reporters both workers and employers would still have guidance and protections if the law changes.

He said that will come from policies from the CDC and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“I think with the CDC guidance, with workplace rules that are put in place by MIOSHA, there’s pretty good, clear understanding of what the role is for the courts,” Horn said.

The bill package passed both chambers of the legislature with wide support.

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