It’s that time of year again… It’s the time for sniffles, coughs, sore throats and headaches. The cold and flu season is frustrating for employees and employers alike, but what happens in the event of a flu epidemic? Are you prepared?
Here are some steps for creating a response plan:
- Divide the company into divisions/departments
- Have each department determine worst-case scenarios
- Proceed with each department in establishing what is essential in keeping each department moving
- Who is essential? Who does their work if they’re out sick? What needs to get done and what can slide?
- Integrate each departments’ plan into one company-wide plan listing contact information for key members
- Also, an appropriate activation/deactivation factor will need to be determined
- This could range from public health officials administering an alert to employee absenteeism from flu exceeding a certain percentage
- Develop materials signifying symptoms of the flu and be ready to distribute these materials when the response plan is activated
- Develop an information platform (internet/hotline) for employees, customers, vendors, and suppliers to communicate the epidemic status in a timely fashion
- Also, keep supplies in place to prevent or slow down an outbreak
- Hand Sanitizer
- Workplace disinfectant wipes
- Face Masks
- Receptacles for used supplies
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, if an employee who is covered and eligible under the FMLA is needed to care for a spouse, daughter, son, or parent who has a serious health condition, the employee is entitled up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Keep in mind, covered employers must comply with the federal or sate provision that provides the greater benefit to their employees.
So, as opposed to laying off employees in this situation, we would encourage you to consider other options, such as telecommuting, and to prepare a plan of action specific to your workplace.