Lessons Learned and New Legal Guidance for Safely Returning to the Workplace

  • HR & Legal


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This session reviewed requirements on safely returning to in-office work by complying with executive orders, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and reasonable accommodations for employees. Additionally, leaders from Eastern Market in Detroit shared how they are adapting to reach their community and customers.


Session Overview

Reopening Requirements
  • Businesses must provide training on workplace infection-control practices, reporting hazardous working conditions, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and notification of illness.
  • Businesses must have cleaning and disinfecting protocols implemented if an employee or contract worker tests positive.
  • Employers must make cleaning supplies available to employees upon entry and provide enough time for employees to properly wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Employers are required to contact the local health department, coworkers, contractors and suppliers that may have encountered an infected employee.
  • All employees or contractors entering a workplace must go through daily self-screening of current health conditions and suspected or confirmed exposure. Employers are required to keep records of daily health screenings.
  • Non-medical-grade masks must be provided to all employees.
  • Employers must encourage employees to wear gloves and masks and use hand sanitizer when using public transportation to get to work.
  • Employees must be 6 feet apart when possible; when this is not possible, face masks are required. If employees must be within 3 feet of each other, the employer should consider providing face shields.
  • Businesses must promote remote work and restrict business-related travel to essential only.
  • Employers cannot fire, discipline, or otherwise retaliate against employees who stay home or leave work when they are at risk of infecting others.
Creating a Safe Workplace
  • Reorganize the office to create adequate space between employees.
  • Stagger shifts and breaks.
  • Install plexiglass barriers.
  • Limit in-person meetings to fewer than 10 people.
  • Increase ventilation indoors.
  • Make hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies available.
  • If conducting temperature tests, use a contactless thermometer, wear PPE and have a temperature threshold.
    • Do not conduct individual assessment.
    • Do not let an employee back in without disclosure/notice.
  • Remember, not all positive COVID-19 cases involve fever. Do not use lack of a fever as a determining factor for entry or employee work.
  • Employers may choose to administer COVID-19 tests to employees before they enter. Tests must be accurate and reliable.
  • Antibody tests should not be used to make decisions about employees returning to work or the nonprofit business opening.
Reasonable Accommodations
  • Allow employees to work from home.
  • Be flexible, since not all employees are in similar situations; conduct a case-by-case analysis.
  • Offer extended leave or delay return to work.
  • Follow the Michigan Paid Sick Leave Act.
  • Provide PPE.

Eastern Market in Detroit has been able to reach its community by changing its day-to-day operations and creating a safe environment!

Share this resource:

  • Check industry-specific requirements in state executive orders for return to in-person work. 
  • Be prepared to adapt and monitor requirements.
  • If returning to in-person work, have employees wear masks and social distance and provide them with sanitizing stations.
  • Consider allowing employees to work from home if they can do their essential job duties at home, but conduct a case-by-case analysis
  • Organizations can still reach their communities and customers by implementing signage and adapting their services.

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