Chartered accountants and business advisers Beever and Struthers are warning
businesses to prepare for the potentially ‘immense’ effects of widespread
absenteeism caused by a predicted onslaught of swine flu this autumn.
The North-West based accountancy practice says contingency plans must be
implemented to ensure businesses have enough staff and proper working practices
in place to cover large numbers of people on sick leave, or staff caring for
unwell family members.
The government recently predicted that 12% of the workforce could be off with
swine flu by September of this year.
Beever and Struthers itself is already implementing widespread measures to
cover for the possibility of absent staff, including identifying key workers
with essential roles and those people with a range of responsibilities crossing
functions and departments and examining the need for cross-training.
Jo Rigby, HR director at Beever and Struthers, said: ‘The impact on
businesses could be immense. Not just if employees contract the virus but
because we would have to manage requests to care for family members who have the
virus or childcare needs if schools are closed or the impact on the workforce if
public transport is reduced through absenteeism.
‘At present we are concentrating on doing what we can to prevent the spread
of the virus and making our employees aware of what steps to take if they feel
that they or a family member may be showing symptoms of the H1N1 virus.
‘The more preventative steps we take the more resilient our business will be
if the virus spreads much more widely in the autumn as medical opinion suggests
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