With Swine Flu cases increasing by the week what are employers’ plans to deal with this pandemic? According to a report in People Management the Department of Health as said it should be “business as usual” even for pregnant women. The Department of Health have confirmed that pregnant women should carry on going to work as usual during the swine flu pandemic, but take extra precautions where possible.
Amid increasing concern over the impact of swine flu on expectant women, officials said they should not alter their behaviour but avoid crowds and unnecessary travel. Pregnant women, who have a higher risk of developing complications from the virus, should also practice good hygiene, including washing hands frequently with soap and water.
The guidance from the Department of Health came following confusion over advice that was issued over the weekend, including reports that women should delay trying to conceive until after the pandemic. Pregnant women in Australia and New Zealand have been advised to wear masks in public and stay at home if possible to reduce the risk of swine flu. But “complete isolation” would be an extreme reaction, authorities said.
Twenty-nine people have died from swine flu in the UK so far, with the number of new cases hitting 55,000 by the end of last week.
Later this week the government will launch a national pandemic flu service, which will include a phone hotline and internet advice, to help relieve pressure on GPs and other frontline NHS staff. Secondment arrangements have been put in place so that health workers can be immediately transferred to the service under their current employment terms and conditions.
Meanwhile, employment lawyers have warned that employers who fail to protect their staff adequately from the swine flu pandemic could face legal action. To avoid lawsuits, employers should take extra precautions to provide a safe working environment, including ensuring people with symptoms are sent home promptly and soap and hygiene gels are provided on site, according to the law firm Dickinson Dees.
Economists have also warned that the epidemic could derail Britain’s economic recovery. The Ernst & Young Item Club said swine flu could cost the economy almost £50 billion. So what are the plans in your organisation to tackle this problem, and what measures are you taking to protect your employees? Would we like to hear your thoughts.