Is your business immune to swine flu? – what HR professionals need to know

A swine flu pandemic could cripple your company, warns insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT).

Cases of H1N1 continue to rise in the UK and it is forecasted to get worse in winter. Businesses must make plans to ensure they can continue to operate should staff, suppliers or customers be affected with the condition.

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that 38 per cent of businesses do not have pandemic response plans in place.

Most large firms and public sector bodies have made contingency plans, but HR professionals at smaller businesses are less likely to have taken this step, says Mike Langton, Commercial Director of Jardine Lloyd Thompson UK Ltd, who is based at the broker’s Birmingham office in St Philips Point, Temple Row.

“Don’t think there is nothing you can do or, even worse, think it can’t happen to you. An outbreak of swine flu among your staff is a threat to business continuity that must be recognised”, he said.

“By following a few guidelines you can help ensure your business is fighting fit and able to react if your staff are affected.”

Staff at JLT have put together a list of common sense steps to prepare for swine flu.

  • Identify what key staff are essential and establish how you can cover their jobs safely. Training for some staff may be necessary.

  • Review personnel policies and reduce bureaucracy – employees who are ill or think they are ill need to be encouraged to stay at home and seek medical advice.

  • Be flexible. Allow home working or flexible hours so employees can look after ill family members.

  • Find out what continuity measures your suppliers and sub-contractors have in place.

  • Maintain a high level of hygiene. Consider disinfecting door handles and telephones and providing anti-bacterial hand gel for staff and visitors to use.

  • Educate employees about hygiene – encourage simple measures like hand washing and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing.

  • Consider cancelling conferences and meetings – why not hold video or phone conferences instead?

Mike concludes: “These few simple measures and contingency plans could save your company a lot of upheaval if your staff are affected.”


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