The Michigan Legislature has approved Rep. Andrew Fink’s plan to add a sunset to COVID-19 employer liability and employee exposure protections.
In late 2020, the Legislature passed several bills to provide businesses with liability protection and protect employees from employer retaliation due to COVID-19 protocols at the time. This included new acts to protect employers and employees as well as amendments to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.
While a sunset was originally included in the bills, it was removed during the legislative process and the Legislature must now either rescind or alter the provisions.
Fink said he believes the rigid practices are no longer helpful, especially because the state does not have any statutes for other more common viruses that have been around longer.
“Knowledge about the virus and how it should be dealt with has changed significantly since the enactment of these statutes – as has the prevalence and availability of treatment,” said Fink, R-Adams Township. “Requiring both employers and employees to abide by these practices is costly and causes confusion as guidance has repeatedly changed.”
Some of the provisions that would sunset under Fink’s plan include requiring employees who test positive for COVID-19 to stay home from work until certain conditions are met and requiring employees who have had contact with them to complete a period of quarantine.
Fink said private employers would still have the option to enforce their own COVID-19 protocols if they choose, but mandates would no longer exist in state law.
House Bills 5244, 6128 and 6215 were approved with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and now move to be considered by the governor.
“Time and again, Gov. Whitmer has vetoed our attempts to reduce the income tax burden on Michigan’s working families – but thanks to systems put in place by Republican legislators in 2015, reductions will happen without requiring her signoff.”