Frequently Asked Questions - Pandemic

The Administrative Office (AO) and the courts will work to ensure that the health and safety of employees in the workplace is protected in the case of a pandemic healthcare crisis or other widespread contagious disease, to include closing offices when supported by official guidance (e.g., guidance from the CDC or other public health officials). Any concern an employee has about contracting the flu from a co-worker must be addressed with the employee’s supervisor.

Requiring a medical examination based on perception of an employee’s symptoms should be avoided. However, if clear evidence exists that the employee has been absent due to illness (e.g., employee has been on sick leave), the supervisor may require that the employee provide acceptable medical documentation supporting s/he is able to return to work and will not pose a threat to the health and safety of others.

Unless the supervisor has evidence (suspicion is not enough) that an employee is physically unable to perform the job or poses a risk to him/herself or others, the supervisor may not prohibit the employee from reporting to work. See question #6 above for alternatives if sufficient evidence does exist that the employee may be ill.

As with any illness, any medical diagnosis by a supervisor should be avoided. However, supervisors are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment, to include the well-being of all employees. As such, an organization may find it necessary to prohibit an employee from remaining at work, but only when sufficient evidence indicates the employee is physically unable to perform the job or poses a risk to him/herself or others (based on guidance from the CDC or other health officials).

If you need to be at home because of a school closure, you may request annual leave for the duration of the closure. You may also request to use earned compensatory time or leave-without-pay. However, you may not use sick leave unless your child is sick.

You may use sick leave if guidance from the CDC or other health authorities advises that individuals with family members who have been exposed are also considered to be contagious and should also remain quarantined. If such guidance does not exist, you may request annual leave, earned compensatory time off, or leave-without-pay to remain at home with a family member who is not ill.

You may use accrued sick leave if you have been exposed to a contagious disease, but only if your doctor or health authorities (e.g., guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or local health officials) believe your exposure would put others at risk. You also have the option of using accrued annual leave or earned compensatory time if you have been exposed.

Employees will need to know what measures the court has taken or how it plans to deal with a pandemic health crisis, including steps to prevent or minimize workplace exposure to contagious disease. Some suggestions for information courts may wish to include in a communications plan for a pandemic healthcare crisis include:

A pandemic healthcare crisis is different from other disasters in that there may be no damage to the physical facilities of a court but many employees may be unable to work due to illness. In these types of situations, courts should use guidance from the CDC or other public health officials regarding the general danger to public health to close facilities, send individual employees home or require individual employees to work from home or at alternate locations.