It's not every day that the federal government issues guidelines to small businesses in preparation for flu season. But then again, not every flu season carries with it the danger of extending the reach of a world pandemic. Through the website appropriately labeled, Flu.gov, the federal government is offering guidance to businesses and employers in anticipation of the 2009-2010 flu season.
Below are highlights from the small business guidance offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with input from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
1. Response Strategies:
- Develop a small business strategy for responding to H1N1 infection considering the following: severity of disease in your area, extent of the spread of H1N1 in your workplace, impact of the disease on workforce populations that are most vulnerable (i.e. pregnant women, workers with existing chronic medication conditions, etc.)
- Ensure that all sick employees stay at home. Advise workers with flu-like illnesses to remain at home until at least 24 hours after their fever breaks.
- Consider implementing active screenings to help detect the occurrence of H1N1 early
- Be aware of the world severity of the H1N1 and be in touch with local health officials so your small business can adapt to changing patters of the virus.
- Even if your small business hasn't felt the effects of H1N1 so far, you should still implement precautionary measures and contingencies in case it does strike over the course the season.
- Have a company-wide meeting to explain absence policies, work-from-home options, and contingencies for school dismissals.
- Vaccine day - consider having on-site vaccination or dedicating a particular day for employees to get vaccinated.
- Encourage hand-washing and make hand sanitizers readily available on-site
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009 - 2010 Influenza Season (Flu.gov)
- SBA Administrator Announces Availability of H1N1 Preparedness Guide for Small Businesses (Reuters)
- Feds urge small businesses to prepare for H1N1 (Associated Press)
- H1N1: Small Businesses Get Guidance (Wall Street Journal)
- How to Stay Out of Trouble While Staying at Home: Rules and Issues Involving Work-From-Home Arrangements (provided by Nelson Law Group)