Thursday, May 14, 2009

Swine Flu--What Should Employers Do

Until now, the swine flu (Influenza A virus, H1N1) has not reached pandemic status, but it could. No one has a natural immunity to it, so everyone must be careful. The number of swine flu cases reported in the United States and Mexico is increasing and the media are paying close attention to the outbreak, so many of the employees may have concerns regarding their potential for exposure to the flu at work and the steps employers are taking to ensure their well-being.

If you are an employer, then you have the duty to protect your employees. You should let your employees know that you’re aware, and you have made some preparation to deal with the flu. Basically, you can share with your employees various infection control instructions, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, or even alcohol-based hand gels. Besides, there are some other aspects you should pay attention to:

First, you should review your safety policies and develop an emergency response plan. You should try to reach the “best practices” that go beyond legal requirements. This will be helpful. And an emergency response plan can deal with both natural and man-made disasters to protect employees and ensure continued operations at the facility.

Second, you’d better review your telecommuting policies and adjust them. If necessary, employees can be encouraged to stay at home if they experience flu-like symptoms. In this way, you can continue your operation in a crisis. This will be helpful and reduce your loss.

Then, you should make plans for the impact of a pandemic on your business, your employees and customers. Try to communicate to your employees that you are following the situation closely and will take all necessary steps to ensure their safety and health.

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