How will businesses manage different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

Posted at 5:24 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 17:46:10-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — At Campus Martius Park and Cadillac Square in Detroit, there were lines to get lunch on Monday. The lines were nowhere near as crowded as pre-pandemic, but they were somewhat larger than they have been.

The end of restrictions on working in the office when remote work is possible means more people, such as cousins Henry and Steven Sharg, are back in their offices today.

“You see more and more people outside,” said Steven Sharg.

“We have been vaccinated and we feel that we are safe,” said Henry Sharg.

The cousins are defense attorneys. Both say it feels good to meet with clients in person as they discuss serious and sensitive issues. It also feels good to look dapper in not just a suit coat for a zoom meeting, but the pants too.

“So much so that in my office I have a change of clothes, but I felt so good about being dressed today that I kept my suit on,” said Henry.

Still, many businesses have not yet brought back-office workers.

“It probably would have been bigger if the workplace safety rules had come out earlier,” said Brian Calley, President of the Small Business Association of Michigan and former Lieutenant Governor.

Calley says the association had been hearing from businesses trying to find out what the rules are as they bring office workers back. The state announced two weeks ago it had reached the 55% benchmark of vaccinated adults required and as such would ease restrictions May 24. It however did not release updated rules for workers affected.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration released rules on May 24. They provide two sets of rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“The rules say that if you are fully vaccinated you don’t have to socially distance or wear a mask. But if you are not, then you do. Well, how is an employer going to manage that in their workforce, especially if there is an apprehension about collecting medical records?” asked Calley.

Calley says there is a lot of confusion amongst workers about whether they can be asked about their vaccination status. In part because of that, many employers do not feel comfortable asking for medical information. Calley says under the law employers do have the right to ask about vaccination status, but managing two sets of rules will still pose challenges.

“Far and away the number one concern we are hearing from businesses right now is over creating a distinction between those that are vaccinated and those that are not,” said Calley.

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