Good afternoon, .

In the face of the Coronavirus outbreak, I want you to know that we here at MMA have doubled down on our efforts to keep our members updated and well-informed in a constantly evolving situation. We have been in regular and direct contact with the Governor, officials in her Administration and legislative leaders, and are being regularly consulted by federal officials as actions are being taken to protect health and safety, as well as our economy. New developments of particular impact to manufacturing employers are below.

Unemployment Benefits Expanded to Coronavirus Cases

Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-10 to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits, effective immediately and lasting until 4/14/20.  The order includes:

  • Expansion of eligibility for unemployment benefits to individuals who leave work because of being immunocompromised, if they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days, if they have a need to care for someone with a confirmed diagnosis or for family care as a result of a government directive
  • Waiving work search requirements and in-person work registration requirements in coronavirus claims
  • Requiring employers to seek a registration and work search waiver when laying off employees due to coronavirus
  • Allowing negative-balance employers to participate in the Work Share program
  • Extending application eligibility period from 14 to 28 days
  • Non-charging employer accounts for benefits resulting from layoffs and other unemployment because of an executive order requiring the closure or limitation of operations
  • Temporarily extending unemployment duration from 20 to 26 weeks, which will allow the State to qualify for Federal Extended Benefits, if authorized at a later date

MMA’s 3/13/20 webinar with the UIA provided an excellent refresher on unemployment programs that are available at this time: Please note that some of the slides may not be aligned with the Governor’s Executive Order.

COVID-19 is a Recordable Illness for MIOSHA Purposes

Federal OSHA has released brief guidance confirming that employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 for the purposes of the Recording and Reporting of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses standard if all of the following are met:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; And
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

We have been in contact with MIOSHA Director Bart Pickleman who has indicated that his agency has requested and expects to receive further guidance from OSHA in the coming days.

Restaurants Are Closed but Manufacturers Are Not

Effective 3:00 p.m. today, 3/16/20, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued Executive Order 2020-9, which temporarily closes “places of public accommodation” including theaters, bars, and casinos, and limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders. These restrictions DO NOT APPLY TO INDUSTRIAL AND MANUFACTURING FACILIITIES.

Seasonal Truck Weight Restrictions Lifted

On Sunday, 3/15/20, The Michigan Department of Transportation issued an exemption from seasonal weight restrictions for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks. Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) to the immediate restoration of essential services, such as medical care, or essential supplies such as food, related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency.

Administration Working to Secure Small Business Disaster Loans

Recently passed federal legislation expanded the Small Business Act’s definition of a disaster to include Coronavirus (COVID-19), which allows the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) under a Governor’s Certification Disaster Declaration.

The Whitmer Administration and has initiated the process needed to obtain the declaration. Once the declaration is granted, small businesses in qualifying areas will be able to access low interest loans through the SBA.

In the interim, the State is encouraging small businesses that could benefit from SBA loans to start collecting the information they’ll need to complete and submit their application. Examples of information needed can be found here and to contact the Michigan SBA offices in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

We will continue our efforts to monitor and inform as we prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our members and employees in the face of the coronavirus situation. Please be sure to access information available on MMA’s COVID-19 Resources page. And as always, please let me know if I or the MMA team can be of further assistance.