About 26K state workers won't return to the office before July 12

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Thousands of state employees who have been working from home for more than a year won't return to the office any earlier than July 12. 

Because the state has reached its 55% vaccination rate goal, many businesses can return to in-person work May 24, Cheryl Schmittdiel, director at the Office of State Employer, confirmed in an email Monday to state employees. 

But that May 24 date will not affect state workers, who will hold to a plan that extends remote work through at least July 12 as staff bring workplaces up to "the latest CDC and MIOSHA standards," the email said.

More than 26,000 state employees, or about half of the state workforce, are working remotely. 

"You will soon be hearing from your agency’s leadership team and manager about what the new normal will look like and the timing for return to state office buildings, including any phase-in period for your agency to transition to how services will be delivered going forward," Schmittdiel's email said. 

The Michigan Capitol

The email encouraged workers to get vaccinated and noted an additional 8 hours of paid sick leave had been set aside for many workers to recover from vaccination. 

"This has been a difficult time for everyone across Michigan, but your continued service and commitment to our nearly 10 million residents did not waver," the email said. "The critical role you have played in continuing to provide important government services during this unprecedented time is appreciated."

The email does not say whether a return-to-work plan for state employees will include mask exemptions for fully vaccinated people. 

Whitmer lifted the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people over the weekend to bring the state in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday it would be issuing new guidance to comply with Whitmer's Friday order. In the meantime, businesses allowing vaccinated employees to go maskless would be considered to be operating in "good faith."