Employers must prepare for swine flu outbreak


Businesses are right to prepare for high rates of absenteeism from swine flu (Personneltoday.com, September 9).


Experts predict a surge in outbreaks this autumn as people return to work after summer holidays and students start the school year. A more virulent strain of the virus is expected to hit hard, as more people acquire immunity to the current H1N1 strain.


Many companies have already lost money struggling to cope with high absentee levels caused by the outbreak, as well as from the rising number of swine flu ‘skivers’.


Contingency plans urgently need to be put in place which focus on the redeployment of key workers. Companies should be assessing staff at all levels to understand their key skills, knowledge and confidence and determine where their skills could be utilised in different areas of the business. Other options could include recruiting a temporary workforce, or even bringing back retired workers.


Only with clear insight and understanding of the skills and knowledge of the workforce can managers make accurate decisions about how they should respond in the face of a pandemic, and effectively staff their company to ensure business as usual.


Mary Clarke, Chief executive, Cognisco

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