Most businesses foresee operational problems in event of H1N1 outbreak
Researchers from Harvard University's School of Public Health found that only one-third of employers who were surveyed said they could remain operational if half their workforce was absent for two weeks due to H1N1, formerly referred to as the swine flu. The study of more than 1,000 employers also found that while 74 percent of businesses offer paid sick leave for employees, only 35 percent of businesses offer paid leave that would allow employees to take care of sick family members, and 21 percent would allow paid time off to care for children if schools/day cares were closed.
"Businesses need to start planning how to adjust their operations to account for greater absenteeism and to slow the spread of H1N1 in the workplace," said Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the school.
Blendon said one of the approaches to slowing the spread of the H1N1 virus if it becomes more severe is to limit contact between employees and between employees and customers. If these policies were recommended, researchers said many businesses would face serious problems in implementing them for long periods of time.
According to the survey, roughly half of businesses could make changes for at least two weeks before they ran into significant problems. For example, almost six in 10 (59 percent) employers said they could stagger shifts in order to increase distances between people at the business site and on mass transit for at least one to two weeks. Fewer businesses said they could physically rearrange their work space to reduce contact between employees (44 percent) or between employees and customers (42 percent) for at least one to two weeks. Only a quarter (26 percent) of businesses reported they could keep up such a strategy for more than four weeks.
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
October 19, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications