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HOME  |  LEGAL
Swine flu gets businesses hot under the collar as two thirds already affected

As two thirds of businesses indicate that swine flu is already within their organisations, research from international law firm Eversheds reveals the impact of the pandemic on UK businesses and the scale of contingencies in place for an Autumn escalation. martinwarren@eversheds.com

LEGAL

Swine flu gets businesses hot under the collar as two thirds already affected

As two thirds of businesses indicate that swine flu is already within their organisations, research from international law firm Eversheds reveals the impact of the pandemic on UK businesses and the scale of contingencies in place for an Autumn escalation. martinwarren@eversheds.com

The survey of more than 420 businesses and organisations across the UK indicates the majority (72%) have already suffered absenteeism due to swine flu. The findings reveal widespread concern over the potential future implications of employee absenteeism, with 38% of businesses believing they will lose revenue an
d one in five (21%) indicating they expect to have to close or part close premises.

Despite these fears, the research reveals that while three quarters (75%) of businesses say that they intend to put contingency plans in place to deal with a future escalation of swine flu, 53% are not expecting to implement such plans in the next seven weeks or more.

Furthermore, 41% said they have no overall contingency plans in place, and a significant 74% of businesses viewed the swine flu threat as a mid to low level priority.

Commenting on the findings, Martin Warren, head of employment law at Eversheds international law firm, says: “All organisations should have a contingency plan in place which addresses the risk of swine flu and tackles business continuity issues should the virus take hold. At a tactical level, this may include the redeployment of staff, hiring additional agency labour, increasing stand-by cover for key operational roles and the temporary shutdown of infected workplaces.”

To date, the research indicated, 87% of employers affected by swine flu have introduced new sanitation measures and three quarters (75%) have distributed information leaflets to employees. 86% have also implemented HR-related measures to help manage swine flu in the workplace, such as requiring infected workers to stay at home; increasing provision of home and other flexible working arrangements and taking steps to spread the knowledge held by key workers.

“Our research shows the majority of organisations are already feeling the impact of swine flu. Given the current economic situation, organisations are already under pressure, but minimising possible business interruption due to the pandemic must be a focus. Businesses need to recognise this and adopt the appropriate contingency measures.”

“Businesses that are fleet-of-foot in their preparations for a future escalation of the pandemic stand to be best protected if the flu takes hold this autumn. Given how quickly the illness can strike and spread, deciding to tackle the problem only when it becomes apparent could debilitate many organisations, particularly those with smaller workforces.

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