The Rebound Detroit: Know your rights heading back to work as Michigan businesses prepare to reopen

Posted at 2:14 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 09:27:33-04

As Michigan begins to talk about reopening the economy, many of you are opening up to The Rebound Detroit about your anxieties when it comes to returning to work.

"Watch out for conditions in your workplace," said John Philo, executive and legal director from Sugar Law Center .

Doreen, a 7 Action News viewer who reached out on Facebook said, “I'm a waitress. How could I possibly do my job from a safe distance?"

"You don’t have to take on unreasonable risks," Philo said.

Your employer is legally required to protect you and follow any industry specific guidelines.

"If your employer refuses to do what the basic safeguards are, they’re not providing hand sanitizer, you don’t have masks," Philo said."Or don’t have these basic things that are required at every work place should then you can complain to OSHA."

Our next question comes from Theresa of Monroe who asked, "Can your company ignore a letter from a doctor saying you have health issues and due to COVID it’s not safe for you to go back to work or can they force you to go back to work?"

The short answer is no, they cannot force you to go back to work.

"Those folks should seek leave from the employer," said Philo. If a doctor says you need to take leave for a medical condition, your employer is required to honor it," Philo said.

Of course, that creates new questions for many like Maryann who’s husband has heart issues.

“If he gets called back, does he become disqualified for unemployment,” she asked.

"Those folks are entitled to unemployment insurance and they can still collect unemployment insurance if they’re on that leave," Philo responded. "The length of leave you’re entitled to will depend on your employer and whether you’re taking short term disability or FMLA leave."

Another viewer asked, "What about families with school aged kids that don’t have daycare? Are they protected?"

In mid-March, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which guarantees paid leave for parents, workers are entitled to 12 weeks at 2/3 of their pay.

Here’s the Rebound Rundown:

  • Your employer is legally required to provide protective gear and enforce social distancing in the workplace
  • If you have genuine concerns about your health, you have rights to get paid
  • If you take medical leave, you’re still eligible for unemployment

If you have a question on this topic, we’d be happy to hear it and help you find an answer. Just email us at the Rebound Detroit or join our Facebook group, Rebound Detroit.