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Flu and swine flu

What to do about work ?

Employers should prepare for an outbreak of flu in the workplace whether or not it reaches epidemic or pandemic proportions. Itís doing the rounds right now and is likely to affect most workplaces.

What should employers be doing?

Protecting the health and safety of employees. This is a legal obligation.

What practical measures can be taken?

1. Inform employees about health risks

2. Take steps to ensure good hygiene and working practices. It can be as simple as getting the Dettol spray out and cleaning all door handles, photocopier buttons, etc. and asking employees to wash their hands regularly, especially when they have been in public places such as supermarkets, cafes where infected people have been

3. Ask employees who are sick with flu-like symptoms to remain at home. Arrangements for home working should be made where possible. Whatís the point of making sick staff come in and infecting everyone else? At the first signs of a serious bug (high temperature, sore throat), staff should be asked to stay away. If you do not provide contractual sick pay you may be required to pay staff to stay at home if they are willing to attend but you ask them not to.

4. Carry out a risk assessment for employees at high risk i.e. staff who travel often. Do they need to travel for work to high-risk areas at this time and then bring back infection to the office? For commuters who are on busy trains, buses, etc. can they work from home for a period?

There is no one-size fits all solution to this. The issues will be different for different businesses. It might not be practical to offer home working for example. But if you take the trouble to think about the issue and do a risk assessment it will reap dividends.

Communication with staff is key: a simple email periodically reminding employees about hygiene and what to do when they have symptoms will reduce the spread of bugs and germs.

Need more advice? You know where to find us!

Karen Jackson

Article posted on: 07 January 2011

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