AZ County Orders Flu-Ridden Employees Home – or Else

October 16, 2009 ( - Officials of an Arizona county have opted to take their concerns about spread of the swine or regular flu among their employees a step farther with this stern message: stay home if you are sick or risk being fired.

An Associated Press news account said supervisors in Pima County, in which Tucson is located, unanimously adopted the policy for their nearly 7,000 employees. Under the rule, sick workers must inform their supervisor who is given the authority to send the person home.

The mandate indicates that employees with a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees or who exhibit flu symptoms must remain home for at least 24 hours or until after the fever subsides. Anyone not complying with the instructions to leave work can be discharged or otherwise disciplined under the new rule, which the news account said will likely be lifted next spring.

“It seems like we are being a bit draconian,” admitted Pima County Board of Supervisors chairman Richard Elias, according to the news report. “But in consideration of our employees and their families and people who come in to do business in county buildings, we want people to feel free to call in sick.”

Extra precautions will be taken among county health care workers, because they work with the sick. County health care workers with flu symptoms would have to stay at home for seven days after the onset of symptoms or until 24 hours after the last symptom is gone — whichever comes first.

Under the policy, the county also waived the normal rule requiring a doctor’s note for an employee absent for more than three work days.

“This will allow doctors, clinics and hospitals to attend to the very ill instead of those who simply need a physician’s verification of an illness,” the policy stated. “This will relieve any overcrowding of medical facilities and further exposure that may occur from a pandemic.”

The new policy is available here .