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May 05, 2009
EEOC Guidance on ADA-Compliant Planning for Swine Flu

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published a document with answers to questions about workplace preparation strategies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus (swine flu) that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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The document has 5 questions and answers. For example, the first question and answer are:

In light of the ADA 's requirements, how may employers ask employees about factors, including chronic medical conditions, that may cause them to miss work in the event of a pandemic?

An employer may survey its workforce to gather personal information needed for pandemic preparation if the employer asks broad questions that are not limited to disability-related inquiries .  An inquiry would not be disability-related if it identified non-medical reasons for absence during a pandemic (e.g., mandatory school closures or curtailed public transportation) on an equal footing with medical reasons (e.g., chronic illnesses that weaken immunity).  Below is a sample ADA-compliant survey that could be given to all employees before a pandemic.

ADA-Compliant Pre-Pandemic Employee Survey

Directions :  Answer “yes” to the whole question without specifying the reason or reasons that apply to you.  Simply check “yes” or “no” at the bottom .

In the event of a pandemic, would you be unable to come to work because of any of the following reasons:

•  If schools or day-care centers were closed, you would need to care for a child;

•  If other services were unavailable, you would need to care for other dependents;

•  If public transport were sporadic or unavailable, you would be unable to travel to work, and/or;

•  If you or a member of your household fall into one of the categories identified by CDC as being at high risk for serious complications from the pandemic influenza virus, you would be advised by public health authorities not to come to work (e.g., pregnant women; persons with compromised immune systems due to cancer, HIV, history of organ transplant or other medical conditions; persons less than 65 years of age with underlying chronic conditions; or persons over 65).

Answer:   YES __________   NO __________

You can read the whole document Pandemic Preparedness inthe Workplace and the ADA.

During a pandemic, employers will play a key role in protecting employees' health and safety as well as limiting the negative effects on the economy and society. For more resources to help with your pandemic flu preparedness, visit HR.BLR.com's Pandemic Planning Resource Center.

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