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Employer Guidelines under Governor Whitmer’s “Stay at Home” Order

Employer Guidelines under Governor Whitmer’s “Stay-at-Home” Order


Under Governor Whitmer’ Executive Order 2020-21, it is a misdemeanor to continue business operations in Michigan until April 13, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., unless one of the following applies:

  1. The work can be done remotely from an employee’s home,
  2. The work is necessary to conduct “minimum basic operations”, or
  3. The work is necessary to “sustain or protect life”.


Workers who fall within the second or third categories must receive a written designation of their essential status from their employer by April 1, 2020. Businesses operating in multiple states should also review and adhere to the executive orders issued by the governors of those states.


What businesses fall within these designations?


First, if you provide a service that can be offered remotely, or if you sell goods that can be ordered online and delivered to customers’ homes, you must conduct business operations remotely.


Second, workers necessary to conduct your “minimum basic operations” can continue to go to work. These include workers whose in-person presence is absolutely necessary to do one of the following:


  • Maintain the value of your inventory and equipment (e.g., preventing damage, deterioration, and/or expiration caused by non-use),
  • Care for animals (e.g., animal shelters, veterinarians, and pet shops),
  • Ensure security (e.g., theft prevention),
  • Process transactions (e.g., internal employer obligations to process payroll and employee benefits), or
  • Facilitate the ability of other workers to work remotely.


Third, if you provide goods or services necessary to “sustain or protect life”, the Executive Order outlines the following “critical infrastructure” sectors that may continue to travel from home to their place of employment.


  1. Health care and public health providers,
  2. Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders,
  3. Food and agriculture workers,
  4. Energy providers,
  5. Water and wastewater workers,
  6. Transportation and logistics workers,
  7. Public works providers,
  8. Communications and information technology providers (including news media),
  9. Other community-based government operations and essential functions,
  10. Critical manufacturing workers,
  11. Hazardous materials workers,
  12. Financial service providers,
  13. Chemical supply chains and safety providers, and
  14. Defense industrial base workers.


Additional examples of businesses that fall within each of the categories listed above are provided online at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. If your business is considered a critical infrastructure necessary to sustain or protect life, you are still obligated to perform work remotely whenever possible.


In addition to the critical infrastructure workers listed above, Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order permits the following businesses to continue operations whenever they cannot be performed remotely:


  1. Childcare workers who serve the children or dependents of critical infrastructure workers,
  2. Designated suppliers, distribution centers, and service providers that support or facilitate the work of critical infrastructure workers,
  3. Insurance providers,
  4. Religious and secular nonprofit organizations that provide food, shelter, and other necessities for individuals in need of assistance, and
  5. Workers that perform critical labor union functions.


Additional resources and employer guidance:


U.S. Department of Labor Q&A for paid sick leave and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions, and employer paid leave requirements under the FFCRA: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave


U.S. Department of Labor Q&A for paid sick leave and medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/pandemic


U.S. Department of Labor Q&A for volunteers, layoffs, vacation time, unpaid leave, and more under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/pandemic


Centers for Decease Control and Prevention practical guidance for employers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html


Contact HaasCaywood PC


If you have additional questions about how employers should respond to the various state and federal restrictions imposed during this pandemic, please contact one of our offices to schedule a telephonic conference with one of our attorneys. 


HaasCaywood PC continues to monitor the numerous executive orders, notices, and guidelines being issued by our state and federal officials related to COVID-19 and are prepared to assist and advise you and your business in relation to the same.

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Prepared on March 26, 2020 by HaasCaywood PC


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