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  • ACOEM Endorses Emergency Influenza Containment Act

    November 13, 2009

    Honorable George Miller
    Education and Labor Committee
    U.S. of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20510

    Dear Chairman Miller:

    On behalf of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), I am writing with respect to H.R. 3991, the Emergency Influenza Containment Act. This legislation provides five paid sick days for workers sent home if the employer determines they have a contagious illness.

    With H1N1 an increased threat, ACOEM endorses H.R. 3991 because it’s consistent with a multifaceted influenza control program by all employers. This would include the provision of paid medical leave to certain employees. The ultimate goal is to reduce the threat of influenza transmission in the workplace to ensure business continuity and productivity. This legislation ensures that in the event the employer asks the worker to stay at home, the worker will receive paid sick leave and not feel compelled to return to work and possibly transmit the influenza to colleagues, clients and others.

    Employers should take those steps that they determine to be in the best interests of their workers, including asking a worker to leave work or not come to work if the employer determines that the employee has a contagious disease or has been in contact with an individual who has symptoms of a contagious disease. Although this legislation leaves the decision to the employer when to ask the worker to leave or to stay at home, we recommend that the employer seek the advice and counsel of occupational health providers when making this decision.

    ACOEM has provided strong leadership on influenza control, including advocating for federal legislation to bolster the nation’s influenza preparedness. Most recently, the College has provided special educational sessions on H1N1 in the workplace and is coordinating a special project for the CDC which is tracking the impact of H1N1 on absenteeism among workers.

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