Human Capital Policy
Pandemics have occurred intermittently over centuries. The last three pandemics, in 1918, 1957 and 1968, killed approximately 40 million, 2 million and 1 million people worldwide, respectively. Although the timing cannot be predicted, history and science suggest that we will face one or more pandemics in this century.
It is impossible to know whether the currently circulating H5N1 virus will cause a human pandemic. The widespread nature of H5N1 in birds and the likelihood of mutations over time raise our concerns that the virus will become transmissible between humans, with potentially catastrophic consequences. If this does not happen with the current H5N1 strain, history suggests that a different influenza virus will emerge and result in the next pandemic.
People accomplish the mission of Federal agencies, and a potential pandemic influenza outbreak may compromise the ability of Federal agencies to accomplish their mission. Therefore, Federal agencies must plan to deal with the potential human capital implications. If a pandemic influenza outbreak spreads, Federal employees may be infected or exposed. Their families may be incapacitated, and their options for getting to work may be limited. There may also be a need to limit potential exposure. Many employees and their supervisors will have questions about their rights, entitlements, alternative work arrangements, benefits, leave and pay flexibilities, and hiring flexibilities available during the turmoil created by the pandemic.
This website provides guidance and information on the programs and flexibilities available to Federal managers and employees to help deal with the effects of a potential pandemic outbreak. When circumstances warrant, OPM also will issue additional guidance to address issues that may arise during a pandemic influenza outbreak regarding the use of leave, telework arrangements, hiring flexibilities, and other human resources matters. This website will assist agencies and employees in understanding and using these flexibilities.
Increasingly, agencies rely upon contractors to perform many of the essential functions of the agency. Agencies are encouraged to contact their procurement staff for advice and guidance on dealing with human capital issues associated with contractors and contract workers.