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Monday, 26 October 2020 20:04

MI Gov. Signs Bipartisan Business Liability Bills Amid COVID-19 Crisis 

Written by Ken Coleman, Michigan Advance
Michigan Capitol Michigan Capitol Susan J. Demas

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed bipartisan compromise legislation that shields many businesses from liability on COVID-19---a big priority for business groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce---and also enshrines some worker protections into law.

“No Michigander should have to worry about going into work when they’re sick, especially during a global pandemic,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “These bipartisan bills ensure crucial protections for our workers and businesses who do their part to protect our families and frontline workers from the spread of COVID-19.” 

 

Whitmer added that she looks “forward to more collaboration with the Legislature where we can find common ground."

 

The legislation, which was approved during a marathon session, came after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 2 that the 1945 emergency powers law Whitmer used for her emergency COVID-19 orders was unconstitutional.

 

The bills require employers to allow workers who are exposed to COVID-19 or exhibit the symptoms of coronavirus to stay home, and prohibit retaliation against employees for staying home when sick or exposed to the virus. It also provides a minimum damages award of $5,000 for violations. Awards may be higher than that in the event of more serious conduct or injuries. 

 

House Bill 6030, sponsored by state Rep. Tom Albert (R-Lowell), says that when a business complies with all relevant COVID-19 related statutes, orders and rules issued by federal, state and local authorities, they cannot be held liable for a person becoming sick at the business. 

 

House Bill 6031, sponsored by Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming), and House Bill 6032, sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt), make clear that when an employer complies with all relevant COVID-19 related statutes, orders and rules issued by federal, state and local authorities, they cannot be held liable under the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Act (MIOSHA) for a worker becoming sick at work. 

 

Whitmer also signed other bills into law. 


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