COUNTY OF SANTA CRUZ
INFLUENZA PANDEMIC PLANNING AND RESPONSE
I. STATEMENT OF POLICY
A severe influenza pandemic could have a major effect locally including the delivery of essential County services to the community. Planning and the identification of appropriate response strategies are essential to minimize the pandemic’s impact on County employees and the services they provide.
Purpose of policy:
This policy states the guidelines and protocols to minimize disruption in the delivery of County services, protect the health and safety of County employees, and limit the negative impact of a pandemic to the County workforce and the community. The policy shall be initiated when the Public Health Officer provides written notice to the County that he/she has determined that an influenza pandemic exists within the territory under his/her jurisdiction and it is necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or the occurrence of additional influenza cases and the County Administrative Officer (CAO) has declared a local state of emergency.
II. INFECTION CONTROL STRATEGIES
A. Managers should advise employees to stay home if they are ill with influenza. An employee who is ill creates a public health and safety risk. Employees should stay at home until they are symptom free for at least 24 hours. An employee with influenza who reports to work with symptoms shall be directed to go home until he/she is symptom free for at least 24 hours. Symptom free generally includes no fever (i.e., less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius) or signs of a fever (e.g., chills, feeling very warm, sweating, flushed appearance) without the use of fever-reducing medications for a minimum of 24 hours.
B. Proper respiratory etiquette should be followed. Coughs and sneezes should be covered with tissues. Tissues should be properly disposed of in trash cans. When tissue is not available use the elbow or the inside of the shoulder to catch the cough or sneeze. Employees should also avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.
C. Influenza may be spread via contaminated hands. Proper hand hygiene should be followed. Employees should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water rubbing vigorously for at least 30 seconds. When hand-washing is not an option, alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be made available in areas with a high degree of public contact.
D. Employee work surfaces and items that are likely to have frequent hand contact such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs should be sanitized frequently by employees.
E. If a vaccine for the influenza is available, employees are encouraged to get vaccinated.
F. An employee who appears to have influenza-like symptoms upon arrival at work or becomes ill during the work day should be separated from other employees and/or sent home by his/her manager, as appropriate based upon the symptoms exhibited. Symptoms of influenza include one or more of the following: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
G. Managers should monitor the health of their employees during the pandemic for visible symptoms of influenza. If symptoms develop, employees exhibiting the symptoms should be separated from other employees and/or sent home.
H. When an employee continues to report to work and there is reason to believe that he/she is ill with influenza and could be endangering fellow employees or the public, the manager may require the employee to provide a medical release pursuant to Personnel Regulations 166 and the applicable Memorandum of Understanding. Generally, an employee is not required to obtain a medical release from a physician prior to returning to work following recovery from influenza. However, an employee may be required to obtain a physician’s certification upon return if there is an existing directive in place to provide a physician’s certification for ongoing absences.
III. SERVICE DELIVERY STRATEGIES
A. During an influenza pandemic, County departments may experience significant employee absenteeism. Managers should identify positions that are critical to the delivery of essential County services and plan for contingency or back-up staffing.
B. Strategies for managers to consider for the delivery of essential County services during a pandemic may include:
1. Cross-training employees or identifying alternative approaches to the delivery of services if key employees cannot come to work.
2. Implementation of flexible work arrangements.
3. Increased use of e-mail and teleconferencing to increase the physical distance between employees and minimize face-to-face contact.
C. A communication plan should be prepared in the event it is necessary to scale back or temporarily suspend County services.
D. Non-essential services that could be suspended, if need be, should be identified by managers. A determination should also be made as to how long such a suspension could be maintained.
E. During a wide-spread influenza outbreak, attendance at conferences, seminars, training classes and other forums that involve face-to-face interaction should be discouraged. Additionally, non-essential business travel should be curtailed.
IV. CHANGES IN WORK SCHEDULE
A. Managers may initiate an employee’s work schedule change during an influenza pandemic in order to ensure the delivery of essential County services or provide flexibility to an employee who is caring for an ill family member. The employee should be given notice of the schedule in accordance with notice requirements, if any, under the applicable Memorandum of Understanding. Emergency rescheduling should be discussed with the Personnel Director prior to implementation of the schedule change.
B. Management may consider temporary assignments involving different or additional work locations, shifts, or work duties during a time of emergency such as an influenza pandemic.
V. LEAVE POLICIES AND TIME CODING
A. An employee who is not ill and is not on authorized leave is required to report to work.
B. An employee who is ill with influenza and off work shall code his/her time off as paid leave. In the event that the employee has an insufficient amount of accrued paid leave (e.g., sick leave, vacation, annual, personal leave) to cover the absence, the employee shall code the hours as time without pay.
C. An employee shall code his/her accrued and available paid leave to care for an ill spouse, registered domestic partner, child or parent.1 In the event that the employee has an insufficient amount of accrued paid leave (e.g., sick leave, vacation, annual, personal leave) to cover the absence, the employee shall code the hours as time without pay.
D. In the event that the schools are dismissed due to an influenza outbreak and it is necessary for the employee to stay home and care for his/her child who is ill, the employee shall code his/her time to family paid leave.1 If the employee has an insufficient amount of accrued paid leave to cover the absence, vacation, annual, comp time, or personal, supervisory or management leave may be used. If the employee has an insufficient amount of accrued paid leave to cover the absence, the uncovered hours shall be coded as time without pay.
E. In the event that the schools are dismissed due to an influenza outbreak and it is necessary for the employee to stay home and care for his/her child who is not ill, the employee shall code his/her time to annual leave, vacation, comp time, or personal, supervisory or management leave. If the employee has an insufficient amount of accrued paid leave to cover the absence, the uncovered hours shall be coded to Leave Without Pay.
F. While an employee is not generally required to obtain a medical release from a physician prior to returning to work following recovery from influenza, management does have the authority to request a medical release pursuant to Personnel Regulations 160 and applicable Memoranda of Understanding. However, an employee may be required to obtain a physician’s certification upon return if there is an existing directive in place to provide a physician’s certification for ongoing absences.
 Sick leave shall be utilized by employees prior to the use of vacation, compensatory, or administrative leave. For those bargaining units that do not have sick leave annual leave shall be used.