According to the Hawaii OSHA, influenza is a threatening workplace hazard that needs to be considered. Better known as the flu, this virus is prevalent during each fall and winter. The seasonal flu is most commonly known in this form. A majority of people have developed immunity to it however, infants and the elderly could be severely threatened by this sickness. It can also be life threatening if one’s immune system is compromised.
Everyone should be aware of a possible influenza pandemic. Even though there is no current worldwide outbreak, the OSHA wants all employers and employees to be prepared, just in case. The most terrible thing that could happen is a high death toll due to the pandemic and social chaos would result. If the outbreak is minor, it would be like a rampant circulation of the normal flu season.
What is the difference between the seasonal flu and a new influenza? Since the virus would be a different variety not yet experienced by the human body, it would take time for our bodies to develop immunity to it. Vaccination may mot be possible for a few months because the virus would have to be studied. The possibility of a flu pandemic is not a far fetched idea, and should not be taken lightly.
There has been an influenza pandemic as recently as 1957. Worldwide, approximately one million people died. It was contained as quickly as possible. Another recent scare was the bird flu, or avian influenza. Beginning in wild birds, and then spread to domestic turkeys and chicken, many people were concerned about the possibility of a pandemic. The virus would need to mutate and pass from human to human for that to occur. More familiar forms of the flu have a greater possibility of causing such a problem.
If you live and work in Hawaii you are probably well aware that the gas prices are some of the highest in the nation. If you travel for work you are probably well aware of this and you most likely receive some kind of compensation for your travels. What you may be surprised to learn is that your employer does not have to reimburse you for mileage. They are required to compensate you for time traveled but unless you are traveling on official state business or a Workers Compensation claimant, there is no law stating that you must be reimbursed for your travel expenses.
In my research I found that only the largest private companies reimburse their employees at the current state rate. As of 2004 The Department of Taxation conforms to the federal optional standard mileage rates for computing deductions for operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes. In fact most employers, as well as the state discourage employees from using personal vehicles for travel unless absolutely necessary. For instance reimbursement by private automobile must be pre-authorized. Also there are many stipulations to using your own vehicle. Some of these include two or more persons traveling together, common air carrier service is not available without undue loss of time, and that it will not require the traveler to be away from their duties for a substantially longer period than travel by air.
Employers are required to compensate injured employees for reasonable medical expenses, including travel. An employee who is required to obtain medical treatment shall use public conveyances whenever possible. If the employee is unable due to the nature of their injury, a physical condition, or geographical location, then the most direct route of travel will be allowed for mileage reimbursement. Travel expenses will be paid at the rate set forth by the state.