Workplace Challenges of Influenza (Seasonal and H1N1)


Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

I noticed the leaves changing colors in my backyard. That means the annual influenza season is approaching. This year we also get the second round of the Swine Flu. (The pork industry prefers that we use the H1N1 designation instead.) It looks like this second round of H1N1 will be more of a problem than the spring outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its Guidance for Business and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009-2010 Flu Season and the Department of Homeland Security has released its Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza: A Preparedness Guide for Small Businesses.

You should review your policies designed to protect their healthy employees, guard the privacy of sick employees, and comply with applicable legal requirements. That means you need to be familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as well as your own internal attendance policies, collective bargaining obligations, employee benefits, and insurance law. Throw some state and local laws into the mix.

The key will be to encourage your sick workers to stay home and not punish them for staying out sick.