Entered by: Heidi Rush @ 19:39:21 on 20/07/09
On Friday 17th July, statistics on swine flu showed the amount of employees taking time off from work has doubled in the one week. It was reported that 177,000 people have taken time off with swine flu like symptoms, compared from 80,000 the previous week.
These figures are not just headlines; here at HR Smart, we have started to see an increase in the number of questions from our clients on this subject. Here are our top tips for your human resouces department when managing the risks of Swine Flu.
- Think about what you want your employees to do should they feel unwell or have a family member who is unwell.
- Communicate the instructions clearly and repeat often, if required, so that everyone is informed and knows what to do.
- Precaution is key! Should swine flu or swine flu symptoms start within your business, affected employees should go home, take common sense precautions and quarantine themselves for up to five days.
Be Prepared – if absence increases
- Consider what the basic requirements of the business are and what you have to do to meet the needs of your clients?
- How many people do you need for the business to function properly?
- Compile a list of skills that each employee has, in case you have to reassign tasks and duties.
- Consider remote working, teleconferencing, webcams, etc to avoid the transferring of germs by limiting face to face contact.
Dealing with Absence
- It may be that some employees consider taking sick days because they are frightened of contracting the virus. Legally employees are not entitled to refuse to come to work on the basis of such a fear alone, but as the Employer you must do all that you can to reduce the risks in the workplace and to try to accept some employees will have such fears.
- Statutory Sick pay must be paid for all absences which exceed four days in duration. Contractual sick pay should be applied as normal, if paid.
- Consider flexibility – employees might need to work flexible hours to care for sick relatives, or school closures.
- Take extra precautions with pregnant employees.
- Communicate with clients, customers and suppliers if your business becomes affected.
- Reiterate good hygiene to all your employees. Remind them that the flu virus is transmitted via coughs and sneezes, wash hands regularly, use and dispose of used tissues.