Employer groups have been asking the Centers for Disease Control for guidance on whether privacy rules prevent HR from surveying employees about medical info designed to control the spread of swine flu. The CDC has responded, including an approved form for requesting certain types of info.
The CDC has issued a document — “ADA-Compliant Employer Preparedness For the H1N1 Flu Virus.” You’ll want to pay special attention to the parts that cover:
- How employers may request health information from applicants and employees regarding H1N1 flu virus. Here’s what the CDC says:
An employer may survey its workforce to gather personal information needed for pandemic preparation if the employer asks broad questions that are not limited to disability-related inquiries. An inquiry would not be disability-related if it identified non-medical reasons for absence during a pandemic (e.g., mandatory school closures or curtailed public transportation) on an equal footing with medical reasons (e.g., chronic illnesses that weaken immunity).
Here’s the format CDC suggests for surveying employees while steering clear of ADA violations:
ADA-Compliant Pre-Pandemic Employee Survey
Directions: Answer “yes” to the whole question without specifying the reason or reasons that apply to you. Simply check “yes” or “no” at the bottom.
In the event of a pandemic, would you be unable to come to work because of any of the following reasons:
If schools or day-care centers were closed, you would need to care for a child;
If other services were unavailable, you would need to care for other dependents;
If public transport were sporadic or unavailable, you would be unable to travel to work, and/or;
If you or a member of your household fall into one of the categories identified by CDC as being at high risk for serious complications from the pandemic influenza virus, you would be advised by public health authorities not to come to work (e.g., pregnant women; persons with compromised immune systems due to cancer, HIV, history of organ transplant or other medical conditions; persons less than 65 years of age with underlying chronic conditions; or persons over 65).
Answer: YES __________ NO __________
To learn more do’s and don’ts about collecting medical info, see the full CDC document.