As concerns about the potential scope of the H1N1 flu continue to grow, one question we keep hearing from clients is whether employees who believe they have contracted H1N1 in the workplace may have compensable workers’ compensation claims. In the vast majority of cases, we believe the answer will be a resounding "No."
Ohio defines an occupational disease as:
"a disease contracted in the course of employment, which by its causes and the characteristics of its manifestation or the condition of the employment results in a hazard which distinguishes the employment in character from employment generally, and the employment creates a …
"The most important thing you can do to prepare your business is to have a written plan."
The federal Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA), provides this advice to small businesses in its recently released, Planning for H1N1 Influenza: A Preparedness Guide for Small Business. The Guide suggests a seven step process for developing your written plan:
- Identify a workplace coordinator
- Examine policies for leave, telework, and employee compensation
- Determine who will be responsible for assisting workers who become sick at the workplace
- Identify essential employees,
Concerns about H1N1 Influenza are beginning to creep back into everyone’s consciousness as summer is drawing to a close. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued updated guidance for businesses and employers, which can be found at:
CDC Guidance for Businesses, Employers, and Workplaces to Plan and Respond to 2009 H1N1 Influenza
Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Businesses and Employers
Employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforces while ensuring continuity of operations. Most of the recommendations boil down to simple common sense:
- Encourage workers who are sick to stay