Our Health & Safety and Employment Law Advice Services are constantly monitoring for changes in the Swine Flu situation and ready to help advise clients of what they need to know. Here is a quick update from our new Swine Flu team, who are ready to help guide clients through any issues and minimalise the impact of the infection on their business. You can get hold of health & safety advice through the Advice Service on 0844 892 2785, or for employment law advice, contact the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772, asking for the Swine Flu team.
With the media reporting more and more cases of Swine Flu and with the death toll beginning to rise, it is now clear that the infection is spreading throughout the UK. It is important for employers to begin making contingency plans to prevent the potential impact of Swine Flu on your business. Unless people are in the at risk’ category, Swine Flu is unlikley to be any worse than normal season flu, and in most cases will be less severe. Nevertheless, contingency plans should be put in place.
Employers need to
- Identify employees and tasks that are essential to the business. Make sure that knowledge of key tasks is not restricted to one person and that it is shared between other staff that can be trained in key tasks so that absences can be covered - this is particularly important if there are safety critical tasks involved.
- Try to allow employees who are infected or suspect they are infected to stay at home and seek medical advice. Be cautious when issuing these types of statements however as some employees may just see this as an excuse to take a few days off sick.
- Look at flexible working practices - this might mean encouraging employees to work from home or flexible hours to enable them to look after ill dependants.
- Consider your suppliers and sub-contractors. Are any of them critical to your business? Will they be in a position to give you the support you require, should their business become infected?
- Maintain hygiene in the workplace. Health Protection Agency guidelines stress the need to use disposable tissues, and the need for regular cleaning and disinfecting of desktops and hard surfaces and particularly disinfecting door handles and telephones. Anti-bacterial hand gel is effective.
- Encourage employees to take personal responsibility to protect themselves e.g. by hand washing.
- Consider canceling conferences or meetings and hold video conferences or online meetings instead.
- Where meetings or conferences are held, identify the precautions that could be taken e.g. cleaning the room and ensuring good ventilation.
The Swine Flu team are on hand to handle any queries that you may have and as a Peninsula client you should always speak to the Advice Service before taking any action. For health & safety advice call 0844 892 2785, or for employment law advice call 0844 892 2772, and ask for the Swine Flu team. They are on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.