May 4, 2009
Preparing Your Workforce For The H1N1 Flu Virus
Although it is too early to know how significant the threat of the H1N1 flu virus will be for U.S. employers, scientists are in agreement that it is only a matter of time until a global influenza pandemic occurs. Employers are well advised to review their existing policies, consider whether they would be adequate to deal with a pandemic, become familiar with available resources and consider whether they might want to adopt a Business Continuity Plan.
Following are the policies that you should review:
- Safety Policies and Procedures
- Leave of Absence Policies
- FMLA policies
- Paid Time Off Policies
- Attendance Policies
- Telecommuting Polices
- Disaster Preparedness Policies
- Travel Policies
When you review the policies, consider how they currently address the following issues, and whether you might want to consider revising them:
- When does your organization provide paid or unpaid time off for an employee who has the flu?
- How would your policies treat an employee who you have required to stay home due to being exposed to the flu or having travelled to a location where the virus is widespread.
- How would your policies treat an employee who stays at home when a school or day care is closed, or when the employee is too afraid of contagion to come to work?
- Do your policies provide for flexible work schedules or telecommuting which might be necessary in an influenza pandemic?
- Do your disaster preparedness policies address these issues?
Note: If your workforce is unionized, you will need to consider the collective bargaining agreement and your obligation to bargain with the union before changing a policy or practice.
There are several excellent resources on the web.
- The following site provides useful questions and answers regarding Human Resources topics: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/faq/workplace_questions/human_resource_policies/e1.html
- OSHA has published a Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Guidance for Healthcare Workers and Healthcare Employers: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3328-05-2007-English.html
- OSHA has also published a Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic :
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN
The FLFV law firm has developed a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan concerning steps that your organization should take to plan for a pandemic. If your organization would like to consider adopting such a plan, please contact
- Alice Berquist or a FLFV Labor and Employment law attorney.