As a franchise owner or employee, you don’t want to be caught off-guard when this flu season hits. Regardless of the size or
type of your business, a bit of planning now can put strategies into
place that will help protect the business and its employees, when 2009
H1N1 flu hits. Plan now for the return of 2009 H1N1 to your community
and for the potential for a more severe outbreak. It is important that
the following list of recommendations be reviewed carefully and applied
in the most appropriate way to your small business.
- Identify a workplace coordinator who will be
responsible for dealing with 2009 H1N1 flu issues and their impact at
the workplace, including contacting local health department and health
care providers in advance and developing and implementing protocols for
response to ill individuals. The coordinator should not wait for flu
season to start in order to establish those contacts and
relationships, and check online resources of local public health
officials immediately to learn what you should be doing.
- Examine policies for leave, telework, and employee compensation
and review with all employees so they are up-to-date on sick leave
policies and employee assistance services that are covered under any of
your employee-sponsored health plans. Leave policies should be
flexible, non-punitive, and well-communicated. They should allow
workers who have the flu to stay home and away from co-workers. Also,
plan to have workers stay home if they have to care for sick family
members. Be prepared, in the event that there are school closures, to
allow workers flexible schedules or other accommodations so they can
mind their children and keep them safe at home. Explore the possibility
of some of your workers working from home with appropriate
- Determine who will be responsible for assisting
ill individuals in the workplace, and make sure at least one person can
serve as the “go to” person if a worker becomes sick at the workplace.
- Identify essential employees, essential business functions, and other critical inputs
(e.g. raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and
logistics) required to maintain business operations should there be
disruptions during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak – and make plans on how
to communicate with people that perform essential tasks to provide them
assignments and work direction. Explore other ways you can continue
business operations if there are supply chain or other disruptions.
- Share your pandemic plans with employees and clearly communicate expectations.
It is important to let your employees know your plans and expectations
when 2009 H1N1 flu outbreaks occur in communities where you have a
workplace. Consider ways to communicate with employees who do not
speak English or those with disabilities.
- Prepare business continuity plans
so that if there is significant absenteeism or changes in the way you
need to conduct business in the workplace during this outbreak you can
maintain operations. School dismissals and childcare provider closures
may increase absenteeism in the workplace. Health officials may also
advise that workplaces take multiple steps to increase the space
between people and decrease the frequency of contact among people, also
known as “social distancing” to reduce the spread of illness during a
more severe outbreak.
- Establish an emergency communications plan.
This plan includes identification of key contacts (with back-ups),
chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and
processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
Please take the above measures, and get ahead of the game, in case this flu season is a rough one.
Check out more tips for your business, and family, over at the CDC website.
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