It is dreaded every year – flu season. Influenza and COVID-19 this year will pose additional challenges for employers. Flu and cold season causes more than 17 million sick days per year, costing businesses roughly $7 billion dollars in lost productivity. Flu and cold season lasts from October through May, which means January is peak time for the flu. So how will you prepare your business for the next flu season?
The following tips should help guide you:
First, it is important to know the difference between COVID-19 and influenza. COVID-19 and influenza (flu) are contagious respiratory illnesses that are caused by different viruses. Symptoms for both include fever, chills, fatigue, sore throat, cough, headache, difficulty breathing and vomiting. Since the symptoms of both are similar it is difficult to diagnosis them without proper testing.
#1: Communicate workplace policies.
Design hygiene policies to keep the workplace clean and emphasize your employees maintaining a sanitary work environment.
#2: Be proactive.
Design a plan to control and monitor the spread of disease in your workplace. Then give each employee a handout on how the flu and other viruses are spread and how to prevent further spread. Ensure your employees practice healthy habits by providing tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap and sanitizer, and disposable towels. Prepare workspaces with reminders of the importance of hand sanitizer and being socially distanced. Your employees should know your office’s face mask policy.
#3: Promote vaccination.
Encourage your employees to get a flu shot. You may want to consider hosting a flu vaccine clinic for your staff or provide reimbursements to employees who get a flu shot.
#4: Stay home with the flu.
Tell your employees to stay home if they have the flu or cold. Don’t make them come back to work too soon. Inform your employees of your company’s paid time off or sick leave policies as well as call-out procedures due to illness.
#5: Understand leave requirements.
State laws and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) require employers to provide unpaid leave to employees with serious health conditions. If you are not already, be sure to familiarize yourself with these policies and how they apply to your employees.
#6: Send workers home, if applicable.
Some businesses are now requiring temperature checks prior to starting the workday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals wait at least 24 hours after a fever ends before returning to work. Employees should be aware that if they show up to work with a fever, they will be sent home.
#7: Obtain information cautiously.
As an employer you are permitted to ask if an employee is experiencing flu symptoms. However, you should avoid asking questions that could lead to an employee revealing if they have an illness covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
#8: Maintain privacy.
Remember all employee medical information is confidential. If an employee decides they want to share their illness with co-workers that is their decision. As a business owner you should never share their medical information.
#9: Develop a business continuity plan.
Based on the size of your business and the number of ill workers, you may experience significant impact to your day-to-day operations and revenues. A business continuity plan details how your business will recover following a disruption. If your business allows work from home schedules, ensure that plans are in place to address technology and required access.
Look to hire a company that specializes in deep cleaning and sanitizing for flus, CoronaVirus and other harmful pathogens. Many professional coronavirus sanitizing services will help you review your workspaces and provide feedback on ways to improve overall cleanliness. When hiring a COVID 19 Deep cleaning and sanitizing company be sure they provide coronavirus sanitizing services.
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