Guideline 3-12: Communicable Disease For Employees

These administrative guidelines apply to all communicable diseases, including, but not limited to, measles, influenza, viral hepatitis-A (infectious hepatitis), viral hepatitis-B (serum hepatitis), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV infection), AIDS, AIDS-Related Complex (ARC), meningitis, meningococcal infections, and tuberculosis. A complete list of the communicable diseases subject to these administrative guidelines is included as Attachment A to the policy on Communicable Diseases-Employees. For the purposes of these administrative guidelines, the term "HIV infection" shall include AIDS, AIDS-Related Complex (ARC), and a positive test for the antibody to human immunodeficiency virus.

Whenever an employee of the college has, or suspects that he or she has, a communicable disease, the employee is encouraged to immediately report this information to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources who can provide information, education, and counseling and testing referrals.

As a general rule, those employees diagnosed as having a communicable disease, and who are receiving medical attention, and are physically able to perform the duties of their job assignment, will be permitted to continue in normal work activities and utilize college facilities and services in an unrestricted manner.

Each case will be handled on an individual basis with the input of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, the employee, the employee's private physician, and/or appropriate governmental health department personnel. The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources is responsible for gathering the input of this group. This may be done either through contact between individuals or a meeting of the group. In the case of an employee with HIV infection, any discussions with the health department will be conducted without identifying the employee unless the employee gives written consent to release the employee's name to the health department.

The input of the persons in Subsection II-B. shall be used to consider whether the employee diagnosed with a communicable disease might pose a risk of transmission to others in the classroom and/or college setting. This group shall provide information concerning the employee's knowledge about the transmission of the communicable disease and his or her understanding of the need to attend to the disease through medical care, personal hygiene, educational counseling, and the avoidance of high risk behavior. Given the current state of medical knowledge, the group will provide information concerning (a) the nature of the risk (how the disease is transmitted); (b) the duration of the risk (how long is the employee infectious); (c) the severity of the risk (what is the potential harm to third parties); and (d) the probability that the disease will be transmitted and will cause varying degrees of harm. Recommendations, if any, concerning the person's employment status and/or conditions of employment shall be made by the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources to the college Chancellor. In formulating decisions regarding the employee's status, the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will attempt to reach a consensus. However, if no consensus can be reached, the decision of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will control.

Each case shall be reevaluated when deemed necessary, or at least on an annual basis, so long as the employee has a communicable disease and remains employed.

If the employee wishes to contest decisions concerning his or her employment status and/or conditions of employment, the procedures relative to any such contest shall be those provided by applicable college policies and procedures.

If the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources receives information from any source that an employee has a communicable disease, the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources shall contact the employee to confirm the accuracy of the information. If the employee confirms that he or she has a communicable disease, these administrative guidelines will be followed by the college to determine the response by the college.

An employee who is in an infectious stage of a communicable disease that can be transmitted by air, water, or other liquid, or skin-to-skin contact is prohibited from attending work. Any employee who knowingly comes to work in an infectious stage of a communicable disease that can be transmitted during the normal activities of the workday may be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources may act as the college's designee for purposes of reporting communicable diseases to the City Health Department.

The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources shall function as the liaison with the employee's physician regarding the individual's health status, and the coordinator of services, if any, provided by other staff.

The right to privacy of the individual shall be respected. Therefore, knowledge that an employee has a communicable disease should be confined to those persons with a direct need to know, if any, as determined by the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources with the input of the group specified in Subsection II-B.

Factors to be considered in determining who, if anyone, has a need to know that an employee has a communicable disease include the nature of the communicable disease, the modes of transmission of the disease, the employee's job assignment, the risk of transmission, the possible need to respond to a medical emergency, the mental and/or physical condition of the employee, whether the person has a legitimate need to know to provide for his or her protection or provide for the employee's health and welfare, and any other factors relevant in a particular case. The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will attempt to obtain a consensus of the group specified in Subsection II-B. in determining who has a need to know. If no consensus can be reached, the decision of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will control. Those persons considered to have a need to know should be provided an appropriate educational program which should include information concerning such precautions as may be necessary with regard to the specific communicable disease, and directives concerning the necessity of maintaining the confidentiality of the information.

With regard to an employee who has HIV infection, the group of persons with a direct need to know, if any, may be informed of the employee's HIV infection only if the employee authorizes such disclosure. The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources may seek authorization to disclose the information to the group of persons who have a need to know. Authorization to release information that an employee has HIV infection shall follow the requirements of Subsection IV-C.

The Texas Legislature has enacted legislation that pertains to maintaining strict confidentiality regarding persons who have HIV infection. Section 81-101 of the Texas Health and Safety Code defines "test result" to mean any statement that indicates that an identifiable individual has or has not been tested for AIDS or HIV infection, antibodies to HIV, or infection with any other probable causative agent of AIDS including a statement or assertion that the individual is positive, negative, at risk, or has or does not have a certain kind of antigen or antibody. Section 81-103 provides that a test result is confidential. Any person who possesses or has knowledge of the results may not release or disclose a test result or allow a test result to become known.

A test result may be released to a local health authority if reporting is required under the Act. With regard to the college, the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources should notify the local health authority when HIV infection is known or suspected in an employee. The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will report to the local health authority whatever information is deemed by the local health authority to be pertinent in a particular case.

A test result may be released to a physician, nurse, or other health care personnel who has a legitimate need to know the test result in order to provide for his/her protection and to provide for the employee's health and welfare.

A test result may be released if the employee, or person legally authorized to consent for the employee, voluntarily releases or discloses the test results or authorizes the release or disclosure of the test results. The authorization must be in writing and signed by the employee, or person legally authorized to consent for the employee, and must state the persons or entities or classification of persons or entities to whom test results may be released or disclosed.

The Vice Chancellor of Human Resources shall routinely monitor the medical status of all employees identified as having a communicable disease. Changes in the employee's medical status may warrant removal or restriction from the classroom and/or college setting. Before an employee is removed from the classroom and/or college setting, the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources may convene the group described in Subsection II-B. to consider any new circumstances which may warrant removal or restriction. An employee may be removed temporarily or permanently whenever the employee's condition constitutes a direct threat to the health or safety of others or, by reason of the communicable disease or infection, the employee is unable to perform the duties of the job. Circumstances necessitating temporary removal shall be monitored as often as appropriate to determine whether the condition precipitating removal has changed. In determining if an employee should be removed or restricted, the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will attempt to reach a consensus. However, if no consensus can be reached, the decision of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will control.

The risk of transmission of AIDS or HIV Infection in the work setting is extremely minimal. Employees are put on notice that refuse to work with an HIV infected co-worker because of the existence of the infection when no risk of transmission exists is prohibited. Anyone who refuses to work with an HIV infected employee or student after the group in paragraph II-B. determines that there is no risk of transmission shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Current policies and procedures may be used with the employee:

  • When the immunodeficient individual may need to be absent from his or her work duties for his/her own protection when cases of acute or short-term communicable diseases, such as measles or chicken pox are occurring in the college population.
  • When there is a question of whether the individual is physically or emotionally capable of performing his or her duties as an employee of the college.

Routine and standard procedures shall be used to clean up after an employee has an accident or injury on campus or in any college program. Blood or bodily fluids emanating from ANY person shall be treated cautiously. Gloves shall be worn when cleaning up blood spills or other bodily fluid spills. These spills shall be disinfected with a ten percent bleach solution or an approved cleansing solution.

The college shall be prepared to refer employees of the college to sources of competent and confidential testing for HIV infection upon a request for such screening. All testing will be at the employee's expense. In addition, the college shall be prepared to refer those desiring to be tested to qualified counselors outside of the college. Such counseling shall be at the employee's expense.

The college recognizes that certain communicable diseases which employees may contract, such as, but not limited to, influenza, are not serious. For the communicable diseases which are, in the discretion of the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, not serious, the foregoing administrative guidelines are permissive rather than mandatory, except for Subsections III and IV-A. relating to reporting requirements and Subsection VIII relating to procedures for cleaning up bodily fluid spills.

(Re: Policy IV-B-5; Board of Trustees Policy Manual)