Hawaii is currently experiencing a major outbreak of Hepatitis A. At last count, nearly 140 individuals in Hawaii have been infected with the Hepatitis A virus (“HAV”). As a result, many Hawaii employers are left with a myriad of questions about the rights of employers and employees with regards to HAV in the workplace.
Examples of questions raised by employers regarding Hepatitis A include the following:
- What is Hepatitis A?
- How long is a person with Hepatitis A contagious?
- Who should get tested for Hepatitis A?
- Is there a vaccine that can prevent Hepatitis A infection?
In addition, workplace-specific questions have included the following:
- Does the Department of Health (“DOH”) require employees in certain fields of work, such as food service or healthcare, to obtain Hepatitis A vaccinations prior to working?
- How does a food service employer know if an employee has been found to have been infected with Hepatitis A?
- How does a food service employer know which employees are a “contact” that needs to obtain a negative IgM test before resuming work?
- Can an employer require employees to get vaccinated? If so, can the employer limit this requirement only to certain job classifications?
- Is the employer required to pay for Hepatitis A vaccinations?
- Is time spent getting a Hepatitis A vaccination compensable under wage and hour laws?
- Is there anything else an employer can do to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A?
- If an employee informs his employer that he has tested positive for Hepatitis A, what if anything can the employer tell its employees?
- If an employee informs his employer that he has consumed food from a business that has an infected employee, what can the employer do?
- Where can I read more information about Hepatitis A?
In response to the multitude of questions that employers have been asking the past few weeks, the Hawaii Employers Council (“HEC”) has prepared a FAQ on HAV and the workplace. The FAQ can be accessed on HEC’s website here: HEC Issues FAQ for Hepatitis A and Workplace Issues.
For any questions that have not been answered in the FAQ, please feel free to contact me.