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Posted October 23rd, 2014 in Top Stories

Ebola Concerns in the Workplace: Building a Communicable Disease Policy

Amid growing concerns about the possible global spread of Ebola, more employers are considering how to handle situations in which an employee may have contracted a communicable disease, or come into contact with someone else who has. The first step, say Nilan Johnson Lewis attorneys Veena Iyer and Elizabeth Winchell, is to have a policy in place that clearly describes the standard procedures for dealing with this very sensitive circumstance. The purposes of a communicable disease policy are to provide the best possible protection for employees and customers, promote a safe workplace, give clear instruction to employees, and ensure that the company complies with applicable laws and regulations. Given that these goals are likely to be similar to other, existing workplace illness policies, care should be taken to evaluate these policies to ensure that overall standards and procedures for dealing with employee illnesses are in harmony.

Iyer and Winchell, who are actively involved in drafting such policies for clients at Nilan Johnson Lewis, say the policy should include steps for handling possible, unconfirmed cases of an employee contracting a communicable disease, in addition to steps for responding to a confirmed case. Further language may be included that outlines procedures in the event of a communicable disease pandemic.

Ebola poses serious health risks, and organizations within certain industries such as healthcare and transportation, along with global organizations with employees who may be returning from areas affected by Ebola, should be especially vigilant in ensuring that a clear response plan is ready and available. For questions, contact Veena Iyer at or (612) 305-7695, or Elizabeth Winchell at or (612) 305-7703.

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