What is an ‘essential’ employee under the stay-at-home order for non-essential workers?

With Governor Gretchen Whitmer in charge of the stay-at-home order, non-essential businesses are forced to close at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

The state primarily follows White House guidelines on “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

That includes hundreds of thousands of workers in Michigan, but it’s unclear which employees are deemed essential. Auto supplier groups rushed Monday after Whitmer’s announcement to consider whether suppliers could have employees in factories if they wanted.

Julie Fream, CEO of the Original Equipment Supplier Association, told Crain’s that she is working with legal experts to determine which suppliers can remain open.

Office of Whitmer Monday afternoon told hotel industry representatives he would issue a clarification that hotels are essential businesses and can remain open, said Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Also on Monday afternoon, the state released a Q&A clarifying the order for non-essential workers, addressing topics such as auto dealerships (auto sales are closed, but auto repair and service can remain open).

In the meantime, essential businesses that will clearly remain open include hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores and other vital businesses. Federal guidelines for which workers can stay on the job while on order are listed below.

Health care

  • Workers providing COVID-19 testing or working in clinical research laboratories dedicated to the COVID-19 response
  • All hospital and laboratory staff
  • Caregivers, including doctors, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists, therapists, social workers and others
  • All other medical facilities including blood banks, health clinics, hospices, etc.
  • Public health workers
  • Blood and plasma donors
  • Insurance and health plan workers who cannot work remotely
  • Cybersecurity and Regular Security Officers in Healthcare and Public Health Settings
  • Social service and shelter workers
  • Pharmacy employees
  • Employees of mortuary services, including funeral homes, crematoriums and cemetery workers

First Responders

  • All police, fire and emergency service employees
  • Hazardous Materials Responders
  • 911 call center workers

Michelle J. Kelley