Flu-related absences provide challenges to businesses

U.S. employers are bracing for more flu cases this winter. Whether they're prepared is another question.

Many — particularly small and medium-size companies — don't have business continuity plans in place for dealing with significant flu-related absences, surveys indicate. Deepening the problem in many workplaces are rules that don't bend for allowing employees time off to heal or deal with a sick child.

Sandra Parker, Tarrant County Public Health's medical director and health authority, said small employers' plans should start with "each individual employee's preparedness," beginning with the owner's.

"Thinking about individual preparedness is a significant contributor to business preparedness," she said. If your child becomes ill, "do you have a plan?" she said. "You don't need to be sending them to school or a day care."

Plans should also address how employees can work from home or shift duties to others, she said.

Many employers require notice before employees can take time off, even for sickness, she noted. Given that no one plans to get the flu, that would seem to call for some flexibility.

Read the complete story at