With an active flu season well underway and concern growing over the spread of potentially deadly coronavirus infections outside of China, it’s a good time to re-emphasize your contagious disease health response plan with all of your employees.
The Centers for Disease Control has numerous wellness and safety templates and information packets you can customize and distribute to your team. www.flu.gov/plan/workplaceplanning/toolkit.html
But there are also potential legal risks associated with outbreaks like the coronavirus. Check with counsel and your insurance partner to be sure you have covered all your bases, but here are three top-line travel-related considerations:
- Sending an employee to a high-risk area during this outbreak creates legal exposure under OSHA’s General Duty Clause. A travel ban is in effect for the epicenter of this outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. But cases of the disease are already confirmed well outside of China and history shows that travel bans are ineffective at slowing the spread of easily transmitted viruses. Employers whose business involves travel to China or other areas subject to travel restrictions should explore alternatives for the duration of the threat, such as videoconferencing.
- Personal travel gets even more tricky, because it brings in the ADA. Demanding employees restrict private activities, including travel to high-risk areas, out of fear they might later become ill or disabled, might expose you to a disability discrimination claim. Provide all information, share expert recommendations, but avoid banning personal travel outright.
- An important caveat: You can require that anyone traveling to those areas or who is otherwise at higher risk of exposure get examined before returning to work. Not everyone infected with the virus will show symptoms but they will still pose a risk of infecting others. ADA’s prohibitions on medical inquiries and required exams stop when an employee might pose a direct health threat to others.
The Premier Learning Solutions COVID-19 webinar series provides the answers you need to urgent questions.
Coronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks available on-demand will give you internationally-recognized business consultant Michelle Coussens’ insight into:
- Keys to creating robust business continuity plans
- How to scale online collaboration and enhance results
- Keeping Up Off-site Productivity & Morale
- Tactics to take traditional business functions from the office to the web
- Implications of the increasingly remote workplace
- Maintaining in-person culture in a remote workplace
- Workforce skills needed to succeed in the remote work future
- How you can help your team counter social isolation
Coronavirus & Influenza: Obligations Under FMLA, ADA, Title VII & More available on-demand, reveals just how far can employers go to keep their businesses operating while not violating the ADA, FMLA, Title VII, or other state and federal laws.
- Best practices employers should implement now to protect employees
- What if an employee refuses to work near someone who appears to be ill?
- How do you handle leave time – is it paid or unpaid?
- Updates from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and state health authorities
Coronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees Available on-demand, explains:
- The coronavirus and other common diseases putting employees at risk today
- OSHA requirements for guarding against infectious diseases in the workplace
- What you need to know about diseases and how they’re transmitted
- How employers can protect employees, reduce risks and stay compliant
- Should employers put a stop to employee travel – especially internationally?
And much more