State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Division of Personnel and Labor Relations

H1N1 (Swine) Flu


Frequently Asked Questions
For
Supervisors

Please note that in the majority of cases employees will not know if they have the H1N1 flu or the seasonal flu. Commonly the flu is distinguished from a cold by the presence of a fever. If the employee has a fever with some of the other symptoms listed below you should apply the recommendations of this FAQ.

  1. What are the common symptoms of the H1N1 flu?
    • fever
    • chills
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • runny nose
    • body aches
    • headache
    • tiredness
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
  2. What should I do if an employee exhibits symptoms of the H1N1 flu while in the workplace?
    • Request that the employee submit a leave slip and exit the workplace as soon as possible.
    • If the employee can not leave the workplace immediately due to transportation or another justifiable reason, take action to limit his or her contact with other staff. Please note that employees should not remain in the workplace to simply complete a routine work assignment.
  3. When is it acceptable for the employee to return to work?
    • In accordance with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an employee should remain at home until at least 24 hours after his or her fever is gone (the fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medication).
    • If the employee works in a health care setting (e.g. Public Health Center, or Pioneer Home), then the exclusion period should be continued for seven days from symptom onset, or until the resolution of symptoms, whichever is longer.
  4. What if an employee returns to the workplace or declines to leave the workplace while exhibiting symptoms of the H1N1 flu?
    • Contact your Human Resources Management Services Contact as it may be appropriate to request that the employee obtain a fit for duty certification from a health care provider.
  5. Can I require an employee to provide documentation from a health care provider supporting that their absence is due to the H1N1 flu?
    • To avoid overburdening medical providers and limiting exposure, guidance suggests that medical attention is necessary only when emergency warning signs are present or if an individual is pregnant or has a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema. Unless the employee is suspected of leave abuse, certification from a health care provider should not be requested. Contact your Human Resources Management Services Contact prior to requesting documentation.
  6. If an employee's family member(s) have the H1N1 flu and the employee has been exposed can I require the employee to take leave until the illness has run its course or prove he or she is not a carrier (no symptoms over a period of time)?
    • No, an employee can not be required to take leave unless the person exhibits symptoms.
  7. Must an employee check in daily while absent due to the H1N1 flu?
    • An employee, or the employee's designee if the employee is incapacitated, must report the absence each day unless the supervisor has agreed to an alternate reporting procedure. 
    • Even though it is expected that employees who have the H1N1 flu will be absent for several work days, the requirement for an employee to regularly report on their condition still exists.
  8. If I suspect an employee of abusing his or her leave what is the process for requesting certification from a health care provider?
    • The circumstances of each situation must be considered and evaluated prior to requesting certification. Please consult with your Human Resources Management Service Contact prior to requesting that an employee obtain a certification.
  9. Is an employee with the H1N1 flu covered under the Family Medical Leave Act or the Alaska Family Leave Act?
    • Unless an employee develops complications and visits a health care provider two or more times and is prescribed a regimen of treatment, or is hospitalized, the H1N1 flu is not likely to be considered a qualifying condition under the Act.
  10. Is it allowable for an employee to telecommute if they are well enough to work during the recovery process or while caring for an ill family member?
    • Yes, telecommuting is allowable on a voluntary basis.
    •  Although a written telecommuting agreement is recommended, this requirement is waived during a pandemic for telecommuting arrangements of 30 days or less. Your Human Resources Management Services Contact is available to provide guidance on establishing telecommuting arrangements that exceed 30 days. Telecommuting arrangements in excess of 30 days will require an official telecommuting agreement.
    •  If an employee is telecommuting from a location other than their residential community or duty station a letter of agreement is required. Human Resources staff is available to initiate this process as necessary.
  11. What factors should be considered when considering a telecommuting arrangement?
    • Type of work employee does:
      • Is it conducive to a telecommuting arrangement
    •  Work history:
      • Does the employee have an established work record of acceptable or greater performance?
      • Is the employee reliable?
      • Does the employee typically meet attendance standards?
    •  IT Accessibility:
      • Supervisors should work with their department's directory administrators to prepare a list of pre-approved employees so remote accounts (VPN) to work files and systems can be activated on short notice.
      • To use the state network remotely, employees must have internet accounts at home. o Virtual Private Networking (VPN) extends the state WAN to another location such as the employee's home. Additional information is available at: http://mail.state.ak.us/vpnfaq.shtml.
  12. Is it allowable for those agencies that employ health care professionals to have these professionals screen or evaluate the medical condition of another employee?
    • No, state employees should not be screening or evaluating a coworker or subordinate.
  13. Information regarding an employee's medical condition/history is normally confidential. Does this apply to employees who have or are suspected of having the H1N1 flu also?
    • Yes. However, a supervisor may inquire, and an employee is required to disclose the reason for absence.
    •  This information may be shared with a higher level supervisor in the employee's chain command on a need to know basis.
    •  Never should this information be shared with coworkers.
  14. What precautions can the employer take to minimize the transmission of the H1N1 flu and other communicable diseases/infections?
    • Remind employees of the importance of frequent hand washing and to avoid touching their mouth and eyes.
    • Provide disinfectant wipes for employees to clean their personal workspace and common areas. ? Provide hand sanitizer for the use of employees and members of the public that may visit your office.
    • Provide tissue and/or facemasks for an employee who is exhibiting the symptoms of the H1N1 flu to cover coughs and sneezes while exiting the workplace.