Michigan’s Return-to-Office Workgroup Releases Recommendations for Transitioning to In-Person Work

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The State’s Return-to-Office Workgroup has provided Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with its recommendations for how employers can begin to plan for a safe, phased reopening of offices. The group has acted quickly to develop concise recommendations regarding Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) policies and additional guidance and best practices to help employers plan for a return to in-person office work. This comes as the Governor announced vaccine-related milestones that will determine easing of remote work restrictions as part of the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan.

View and download the recommendations.

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:


  • Provide additional examples to help employers interpret and implement MIOSHA guidance.
  • Consider addressing additional questions including:
    • Mentoring and training of employees.
    • Task-based work functions (e.g., some work in-person, some remote).
    • Clarify employer’s ability to update the policy as needed and recognize changing conditions.
    • Consider individual feasibility based on an employee’s ability to successfully complete their functions remotely (e.g., classification may be remote, but individually employee either struggles or does not have the tools/ability to function remotely).
    • Consider collaboration and team functions.
    • Consider employee well-being/mental health.
  • Consider communicating that more in-person work is permitted.

MDHHS Guidance:

  • Provide ongoing updates to the Nov. 6 guidance as necessary and regularly to reflect current trends of vaccination and infection.

Employers – Reducing Office Density:

  • Focus on task-based collaboration and specific needs for in-person work while allowing other tasks and teamwork to be completed remotely when feasible.
  • Consider utilizing hybrid work strategies to promote social distancing.

Employers – Addressing Operational Obstacles:

  • Daily Health Screenings – stagger entry times to avoid congregation at screening checkpoints, consider using screening apps to provide prior to entry.
  • Entry/exit through common entrances and elevators – stagger start and end times as practical to avoid congregation.

Employers – Quarantine, Isolation, and Testing Guidelines:

  • Ensure policy clearly articulates the ability of employees to quarantine/isolate/test without risk of job loss.
  • Promote the use of sick leave tax credits available for employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide paid leave.

Employers – Caregiving Resources for Employees:

  • Establish a return policy that provides employees with caregiving obligations to continue remote work regardless of the cohort group returning, including caregiving of immuno-compromised persons.
  • Promote the use of family leave tax credits available for employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide paid leave.

Employers – Vaccines:

  • Provide up-to-date information to employees on the vaccines.
  • Provide links to vaccination sites/sign-up information.
  • Consider partnering where possible with local public health to offer on-site vaccination.
  • Add COVID-19 vaccination to existing wellness programs and benchmarks.

Learn more at Michigan.gov/COVIDWorkplaceSafety.


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