With the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declaring monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” do employers need to take action?
According to law firm Seyfarth Shaw, the answer is, “Not at this time.”
So, with the exception of the healthcare industry, monkeypox is viewed by the WHO and CDC as a public health hazard, not a workplace hazard. That means there are no specific federal, state or local rules at this time that address monkeypox precautions in the workplace.
Continue to track CDC guidance
At this point, employers should track CDC guidance related to monkeypox and take the necessary steps recommended to abate the potential hazard if the agency declares it a workplace hazard. But, as of the date of this publication, the CDC and OSHA have not issued workplace guidance related to monkeypox, other than in the healthcare industry.
“It is possible CDC or OSHA may issue workplace guidance related to monkeypox in the future, however, at this time employers do not need to restart COVID-19 protocols to address monkeypox,” according to Seyfarth Shaw.
Legal protections for employees with monkeypox
One other thing to keep in mind is that “employees who contract or who are treated for monkeypox may have certain protections under federal and state law against discrimination.”
That means monkeypox, which can be considered a serious health condition under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), could trigger job protections. Similar protections could be in place if the disease results in a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).