With 53,000 new cases of swine flu diagnosed in a single week recently and GPs preparing to vaccinate only nine million people in certain higher risk groups, there is a real possibility the pandemic will have a significant impact, not only on the health of the nation, but also on the UK’s businesses.
Only last week, one of our staff members discovered that (his/her) partner had been diagnosed with the illness. Whilst in many cases the condition is relatively mild, the infection risk is high and for many organisations, a depleted workforce due to sickness can put an enormous strain on operations. This is particularly true for owner-managed businesses and SMEs – the types of enterprise which most Vistage members run.
Many companies have therefore been seeking advice on what they can do to protect the health of their staff and minimise the potential impact of the virus on their organisations. This is partly because there are numerous aspects of the problem they need to consider, including: preventing transmission of the virus once it’s evident among a workforce; dealing with staff who have the illness; business continuity planning; working time and other legal issues; statutory sick pay; and matters relating to business insurance policies, to name but a few.
The most sensible advice we can give our members would be to follow the latest guidance from the Health Protection Agency and other authoritative bodies. Consulting the following websites would certainly be time well spent: www.hpa.org.uk, www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu or www.nhs.uk