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Exactly who is an essential employee?

Posted at 9:38 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 09:49:58-04

LANSING, Mich. — Ever since Governor Gretchen Whitmer released her "Stay Home, Stay Safe," executive order, Fox 47 has gotten a lot of questions about who exactly is an essential employee.

"I'm sure there's a little bit of confusion even with certain businesses, some services may be essential, while some others may not," said Andrew Abood.

Gov. Whitmer's executive order tells people to stay home if their work is "not necessary to sustain or protect life."

"There are a lot of businesses that fall into the exception of the rule. If you're in food service, healthcare, necessities of you'd expect that pharmacies will remain open, grocery stores are going to be maintained," Abood said.

He said you have the legal right to stay home from work if your employer doesn't meet the definition of "essential" as outlined in the order.

"If you believe that your employer is requiring you to come into work in violation of the order, number one you should protect yourself, number two, if it doesn't fit in with the exact parameters of the order, then I think you have a legitimate basis to stay home," Abood said.

Abood said if you lose your job or face other retaliation, it's best to go to the authorities.

"It's a crime to violate that order, and if someone isn't in compliance, then you can file a complaint with the attorney general or the executive branch and I suspect they'll be investigated."

For those who do get laid off, or furloughed, Abood said they might be able to delay mortgage, rent or loan payments.

He said the coronavirus pandemic is what's called a "force majeure," or an "act of God."

In some cases, a force majeure may waive any payments that you might not be able to make.

Gov. Whitmer said the order will last through April 13. To view the full order, click here.''

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