2020 Archive HR News

February 24, 2020

Contagious Employees

For Represented Employees:

Under the WFSE CBA it states that employees will contribute to a healthy workplace, including not knowingly exposing co-workers and the public to conditions that would jeopardize their health or the health of others. The Employer may direct employees to use leave in accordance with Article 12, Sick Leave, when employees self-report a contagious health condition.

That means if your employee shows up and says they are ill/contagious and you believe them to be jeopardizing their health or the health of others, you can direct them to take leave (whether that be sick leave, annual leave, personal holiday/leave day or LWOP would need to be in accordance with the CBA and their leave balances). Again, if this is the situation, please reach out to your assigned Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) to discuss the specifics of your situation prior to sending an employee home.

If the employee does not self-report, but you have objective evidence that leads you to believe they are jeopardizing their health or the health of others, you can direct them home on administrative leave for the remainder of the day (meaning misc. paid leave, not drawing from their leave balances). Any additional absences (the following day and beyond) they would need to submit their own leave or LWOP. Again, it is key that you call your HRBP prior to having this conversation to ensure there are not additional considerations (like FMLA or reasonable accommodation-qualifying conditions).

For Non-Represented Employees:

If your agencies Leave Policy does not speak to this scenario, we would advise you to follow the same guidance as above for non-represented employees. As an employer, you have the right and responsibility to ensure the safety and health of our workforce. This does not mean we need to send every employee with the sniffles home, nor should we, but in cases where it is apparent that an employee is very ill and should not be at work, and the employee does not respond when you have the normal conversation suggesting they seem too sick to be at work, please call your HRBP.

If employees are well enough to work, but seem to be contagious you can give them the option to telework at home if the position they occupy is telework eligible (you can confirm if it is telework eligible by looking at the PDF on file under the HR section on the last page). This option will allow the employee to continue to work without putting other employees at risk. We suggest having a mobile work/telework agreement on file if the employee will regularly telework or plans to use that option even intermittently in the future. If is an unforeseen or unusual circumstance (like a contagious illness) an agreement is not required to be in place in advance. Please consider the needs of the position, the nature of the work, and the technology required in order for the employee to reasonably perform their job from home though. If you have any questions on the analysis of if a position is eligible to telework/mobile work, DES policy on mobile work, or the handbook for telework/mobile work please visit the Supervisor Toolkit/Mobile Work section.

This guidance has been vetted and confirmed by OFM/Labor Relations. OFM/State HR is working on additional guidance in light of the international Coronavirus outbreak. We will pass any additional guidance along when it is received. Your best bet is to work with your HRBP should a situation arise to ensure they can give you guidance on your specific scenario and ensure consistency within the agency. All HRBPs have received this guidance and will be advising customers accordingly.