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16 July 2009

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The issue of swine flu and its impact and effect on business is going to be a continuing news story.

This will inevitably have a British slant to it because that's the news I am subjected to each day.

Just one day after writing this blog on what a small business can do to protect itself from swine flu, the newspapers are full of the story that Chief medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson has warned that a third of the population could catch swine flu and that 65,000 could die over the next two years.

The newspaper I am reading reports that the symptoms of swine flu include

a sudden fever
a temperature over 38 C or 100.4 F
a cough
headache
shivering
aching joints
stomach upset

Treatment is bed rest, plenty of fluids, paracetamol and if necessary the antiviral drug Tamiflu

To stop passing it on, wash your hands frequently and to keep away from other people.

The Guardian reports

"One firm monitoring the outbreak said that up to a third of the UK's workforce might have fallen sick by September. Oxford Economics, a forecasting organisation, warns that the pandemic could knock 5% off the country's gross domestic product."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/16/swine-flu-pandemic-warning-helpline

You can read more about the Oxford Economics predictions here

http://www.oef.com/free/pdfs/ukmswineflu(jul09).pdf

Some useful links from Personnel Today

Swine flu: 10 things HR professionals and employers need to do now

http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/05/01/50513/swine-flu-10-things-hr-professionals-and-employers-need-to-do-now.html

Swine flu - top tips for employers

http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/07/09/51393/swine-flu-top-tips-for-employers.html

Swine-flu plans could save your business says CIPD

http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/07/13/51415/swine-flu-plans-could-save-your-business-says-cipd.html

Swine flu and business impact and effects updates

Swine flu & your business

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/business/business_advice/s/1126764_swine_flu_and_your_business

Warns about the duty of care employers owe their employees but doesn't go into much detail.

Swine flu could extend recession by two years

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/17/swine-flu-recession-thinktank

more scary stuff from Oxford Economics about how swine flu could dramatically change the business environment.

Comes with a warning that small businesses are going to be particularly badly hit.

SMEs should have a pandemic plan

http://www.nebsmarketingstore.ca/news/business-sense/smes_should_have_a_pandemic_plan_experts_say$319.html

Research shows that 87% of small businesses in Canada are not well prepared for swine flu - I expect similar results elsewhere.

Discounted online meetings and web conferencing

http://small-business-voip.tmcnet.com/topics/smb-voip/articles/60100-eblvdcom-offers-bail-out-options-small-business-owners.htm

eBLVD are offering businesses a 40% reduction to help transfer face to face meetings on line to reduce the transmission of swine flu.

I mentioned above that businesses who bring people together should have a customer policy for swine flu and cited airlines as an example.

Here is an article from the Sunday Times explaining that both British Airways and Virgin are refusing to let people who appear to be suffering from swine flu on their planes

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6719172.ece

Passengers face the prospect of being quarantined overseas if they manage to get through departures - perhaps because the swine flu symptoms haven't appeared - but are suffering the other end.

So should your business consider the airline example and think about having a customer swine flu policy?

Would you want to sit in a cinema if someone was coughing and hacking away?

A clear public policy could be one way that you can help keep demand up because customers who fear infection just won't go.

Mind you, even with a customer swine flu policy they may not come.

Google alerts on swine flu and the impact on business are increasing.

The Guardian asks if the economy will fail as people fall sick

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/12/swine-flu-economic-impact

and includes fears that the Internet could become overloaded as more employees work from home.

News on the BBC radio today that the Ernst & Young Item club was predicting that the UK economy could fall by 7.5% this year as the swine flu piles on the pressure on top of the recession and this has been picked up by the Wall St Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124808006641564743.html

Commentators agree with my assessment that the economy is going to be squeezed from both the supply side (with workers unable to go to work) and the demand side (as people fear to congregate at certain businesses).

A few more links for you to look at to help your business plan for swine flu problems and to reduce the impact.

Business community should plan for fall flu pandemic

http://www.canada.com/health/Plan+fall+pandemic+Report/1809721/story.html

Dealing With Swine Flu

http://www.tworkshb.com/dealing-with-swine-flu/comment-page-1/#comment-6489

Small To Medium Enterprises Face Little Sympathy With Swine Flu Absenteeism

http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/news.php?CID=&NID=1682&Title=Small+To+Medium+Enterprises+Face+Little+Sympathy+With+Swine+Flu+Absenteeism

Employers Swine Flu policy for employees

More interesting news and opinion

Swine Flu: Can You Be Forced To Go To Work?

http://www.confusedcredit.com/swine-flu-can-you-be-forced-to-go-to-work

some answers to some UK employment law questions about swine flu


Are You Breaking Swine Flu's Golden Rule?

The advice is to stay at home if you are feeling ill but what about employees who fear for their jobs (USA) because the business is making cutbacks in staff.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=103853

Swine Flu Pandemic: Would Your Employees Take Advantage?

The suggested increase in the sick note rules in the UK from 7 days to 14 days is open to abuse by employees

http://www.gematech.com/blog/2009/07/15/how-can-you-stop-your-employees-taking-advantage-of-the-swine-flu-pandemic/

Today's news on swine flu and business is mixed

Public relations story affected as JCB has the visit by Prince Andrew cancelled because of a few suspected cases.

Not sure what example this sets to the JCB workers in particular and the public in general.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staffordshire/8162611.stm

The Daily Mail carries an alarming story - but it is said that bad news sells papers.

Swine flu victims could sue bosses for thousands if they catch virus at work

Useful tip to make sure that the employers liability insurance covers swine flu and you should be doing what you can to protect and educate employees on the risks.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201371/Bosses-risk-lawsuits-staff-swine-flu-work-sick-day-rate-soars.html

Swine flu absence set to cost business £8.6 billion reports HR magazine

It says that employees infected with teh swine flu virus will take on average 4.3 days off work but pressure is growing to move the average up to 8 days.

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/channel/news/article/921998/Swine-flu-absence-set-cost-business-86-billion/

Finally a discussion of the ethical aspects of swine flu in

Business Ethics and H1N1 Swine Flu Disclosure for Employees

http://www.procprblog.com/business-ethics-and-h1n1-swine-flu-disclosure-for-employees

Businesses threatened by the swine flu virus virus

No I haven't typed in virus twice by mistake.

It seems that some malicious b*****ds are using swine flu as an excuse to spread a computer virus

It poses in a document claiming to provide information about swine flu but is really the Novel H1N1 Flu Situation Update.exe

More details

http://www.webuser.co.uk/news/286541.html

Some people do have sick minds.

Swine Flu & Business update 24 July

How hair dressing salons are combating swine flu - an example where there is close personal contact between clients and staff.

http://www.hji.co.uk/blogs/main/2009/07/what-are-salons-doing-to-comba.html

Swine flu conspiracy theory for pharmaceuticals to make money???

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/276359

Small firms need swine flu measures say FSB

http://www.morethanbusiness.com/Knowledge-Centre/Business-News/2009-07-23/Small-firms-need-swine-flu-measures,-says-FSB/1093

Nick Jew, head of employment in the Birmingham (UK) office of law firm DLA Piper, offers a guide for employers on swine flu

The employers' guide to swine flu epidemic (from The Birmingham Post)

Lots of questions I hadn't thought of and wouldn't know the answer to as I know nothing about employment law compliance.

Very useful read for small businesses based in the UK who are battling with the swine flu issue.

http://www.birminghampost.net/2009/07/23/nick-jew-the-employers-guide-to-swine-flu-epidemic-65233-24219282/

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