6 Frequently Asked Questions about Absence Management

6 Frequently Asked Questions about Absence Management

Absence management comes in many different shapes and sizes. Oftentimes issues arise in the workplace regarding absence management or FMLA and the intricate compliance laws and requirements may make handling the issue more complicated than expected. ERC’s Help Desk compiled a list of frequently asked questions we receive from our local members and with the help of CareWorks, here’s the answers to those questions:

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3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

In 2015, measles was rising health concern in the country. Organization's everywhere wondered what they should do in the event that one of their employees is diagnosed with measles, and how they can prevent other employees from future contact.

Here are four facts about what can and cannot happen when measles comes to your office.

Fact #1:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) no longer provides short-term impairments from its definition of "disability." According to an article on workforce.com, "there is an argument to be made that the measles could qualify as an ADA-disability, provided that it substantially limits a major life activity of the sufferer."

However, considering people infected with measles are out for about a  week, it would be difficult to make a case that a one-week impairment could "substantially limit a major life activity" of the infected.

Fact #2:

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private employers can require vaccinations as long as they are willing to accommodate employees' disabilities and religions. Employers can review any of these accommodations under the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as similar state and local laws.

However, many states do not have a mandatory policy in place. It also depends on the sector in which you work. An organization in the healthcare sector may have a mandatory vaccine program for its employees since they are more likely to run the risk of coming in contact with a disease like the measles. However, organizations in other industries don't necessarily run the same risks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, "Generally, ADA-covered employers should consider simply encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine rather than requiring them to take it." Even though you run risks when mandating your employees to get vaccinated, another option is to always hold an education seminar on the risks of not being vaccinated.

Fact #3:

Employers can use an ADA-compliant pandemic employee sample survey to give to their employees. On the survey, employees can be asked medical and non-medical questions about the ability of the employee to come to work, in the event of a pandemic. This survey will help give employers information they need to plan if a pandemic happens, and how to shield employers from receiving information about any illnesses that employees might have.

Before an issue arises in your workplace, it's a best practice to stay up-to-date on the Center for Disease Control, federal, state, and local public health guidelines and to also stay mindful of any anti-discrimination laws.

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

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Court: Random Alcohol Tests Not in Violation of ADA

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) case against U.S. Steel Corp., ruled that random tests for alcohol can be performed on probationary employees who work in safety sensitive positions, and that doing so does not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the 2013 case, the EEOC argued that the company's policy of conducting breath alcohol testing at random on probationary employees could be considered a medical examination and that ADA restricts employers from requiring such exams unless it meets the standard of being "job related and consistent with business necessity."

Meanwhile, U.S. Steel held that its policy was lawful on several conditions, including that it was job related and consistent with business necessity, that it was part of a voluntary health and safety program negotiated and agreed upon with its union, and necessitated by the company's obligations under federal safety and environmental laws and regulations (Source: SHRM).

The court decision affirms that employers can take reasonable steps, including random alcohol tests, to keep workers safe on the job. Although, employers should proceed cautiously and still heed the EEOC's guidance regarding medical examinations under ADA.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application.

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