Agency Guidance - Human Capital Management Policy for a Pandemic Influenza
What a Supervisor Should Do if an Employee Appears Ill During a Declared Pandemic Influenza or Has Been Exposed to Pandemic Influenza
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The chart on the following page was developed to assist managers and supervisors in determining the appropriate course of action when confronted in the workplace with an employee who appears ill during a declared pandemic influenza outbreak or an employee who has been exposed to pandemic influenza. Employees who appear to be ill include those workers with pandemic flu-like symptoms (based on symptoms identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will be posted at www.pandemicflu.gov once the symptoms are known). Employees who have been exposed to pandemic influenza include those employees who have a known, recent, and direct exposure to pandemic influenza (also based on guidance from CDC and from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)). The chart is intended to assist Federal supervisors and managers in assessing the capacity of their workforce to carry out the work for which the supervisor or manager will remain accountable during a pandemic influenza.
Where occupational health services or authorized medical officials are available, agencies should recommend employees who appear to be ill or who have been exposed to pandemic influenza seek their assistance. If the employee refuses to seek assistance, seeks assistance but refuses to follow a medical recommendation to leave the workplace, or medical services are not available, agencies should follow the chart on the following page. The specific facts and circumstances of each case must be reviewed to determine the appropriate action to be taken. Supervisors and managers should be familiar with agency-specific rules and guidance as well as all applicable laws and leave policies. (See http://www.opm.gov/pandemic/agency1d-leave.pdf [40 KB].) They should seek assistance from their human resources (HR) office early, and certainly before taking any adverse action, to ensure they have considered all appropriate options and have objective evidence to support the action. Supervisors should not take action based solely on their own subjective assessment of an employee's medical condition. The nature and extent of the objective evidence required will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the agency. HR staffs are equipped to assist supervisors and managers with these determinations.
Return to Work Following Pandemic Influenza or Exposure to Pandemic Influenza
Supervisors should consult with their HR office and follow any public health recommendations from CDC or medical advice offered by the employee's physician when determining whether and when an employee should be allowed to return to work following an absence due to pandemic influenza.
Managers and supervisors should familiarize themselves with OPM's Agency Guidance, including the Questions and Answers section, on leave, pay, employee and labor relations, hiring, alternative work arrangements, and other critical human capital issues in relation to a pandemic influenza to ensure they can continue to carry out the work of their office and protect the workforce should a pandemic influenza outbreak occur. (See http://www.opm.gov/pandemic/index.asp.) As part of any planning effort, managers should discuss with employees the common-sense steps employees can take to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of influenza in the workplace. These measures include, but are not limited to, frequent hand washing and other good health habits to stop the spread of germs, staying home when one feels ill, and generally decreasing contact with others, an approach known as social distancing. These and other simple steps employees can take are found on CDC's Website at www.cdc.gov/flu and www.cdc.gov/germstopper/work.htm.
Managers and supervisors should also keep themselves informed of the latest public health information released by CDC. Based on that guidance, managers and supervisors should follow the chart on the following page to ensure that an employee who appears ill during a declared influenza pandemic or has been exposed to pandemic influenza leaves the workplace as quickly as possible so as to protect the employee and limit exposure to other workers.
Managers and supervisors should plan in advance for the possibility that employees may need to work at home during pandemic influenza. In advance of a pandemic, managers and supervisors should discuss with employees the types of assignments they may be given if they are evacuated from the workplace (see 5 CFR 550.409) or choose to telework to promote social distancing. Assignments under the evacuation pay authority may include any work considered necessary or required to be performed during the period of the evacuation, without regard to an employee's grade level or title, provided the employee has the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the assigned work. For example, such work could include various research projects or on-line training and other employee development activities. If an employee is not physically capable of working, he or she should not be given work assignments to complete at home. If the employee is not able to work, the supervisor should pursue alternative ways of accomplishing the employee's work.