New Federal Flu Guidelines for Business Plus Practical Tips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have new federal guidelines to help businesses and employers prep for the upcoming flu season, which could affect business operations this fall and winter.

Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano came together to offer the new guidelines which are also online at http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/workplaceplanning/guidance.html

In response to the seasonal flus and the H1N1 (swine flu), employers should encourage employees with flu-like symptoms or illness to stay home and possibly have those at higher risk of serious medical complications from infection work from home, according to the guidance. In preparation for lost man power, businesses should also address how to operate with less staff.

“One of the most important things that employers can do is to make sure their human resources and leave policies are flexible and follow public health guidance,” said Sebelius. “If employees are sick, they need to be encouraged to stay home. If people begin to experience flu-like symptoms at work, they should be sent home and possibly encouraged to seek medical treatment.”

There is also a communication toolkit for businesses and employers online at http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/workplaceplanning/toolkit.html

Some flu fighting tips for businesses:

Business owners should review sick leave policies and ensure employees understand them

Consider making sick leave policies flexible for workers who may have to stay home with ill family members or if a child’s school is closed

Business owners should consider offering vaccine against seasonal flu, and encourage employees to be vaccinated against seasonal and H1N1 flu.

Business owners may want to cancel non-essential face-to-face meetings and travel, and space employees farther apart.

Consider allowing employees who are at higher risk for flu complications might be allowed to work from home or stay home if the flu is severe.

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