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Germ Prevention Policies At Work

(file photo / Getty Images)

(file photo / Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You hate the idea of getting germs from the Typhoid Mary in your office, but how far can you go to prevent her from spreading germs?

Congratulations, Australia. You’ve won the party pooper of the year award by new regulations that prevent kids from blowing out candles on their birthday cakes to prevent the spread of germs. Although the more you think about it, stopping the kid spittle might not be a horrible policy. But how far is too far for your office to go to prevent the spread of germs? You’d have to go very far to violate the law.

It is perfectly legal for offices to create cleanliness guidelines on throwing away used tissues, covering one’s nose and mouth, and to require employees to wash their hands in the bathroom – which is legally mandated, in fact, where food preparation is involved. And it’s even legal to require employees to get flu shots unless there is a religious or documented health reason why the employee can’t.

An office can’t discriminate against an individual on the basis of a disability, but encouraging employees to stay home when they are sick, and to coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose – or candles – away from others, is a good and legal policy mate.