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Four-fifths of businesses foresee problems maintaining operations if H1N1 flu outbreak
Date:9/9/2009

Boston, MAIn a national survey of businesses that looks at their preparations for a possible widespread H1N1 outbreak, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that only one-third believe they could sustain their business without severe operational problems if half their workforce were absent for two weeks due to H1N1 (also known as "swine flu"). Just one-fifth believe they could avoid such problems for one month with half their employees out. The survey also found that while 74% of businesses offer paid sick leave for employees, only 35% of businesses offer paid leave that would allow employees to take care of sick family members, and even fewer would allow paid time off to care for children if schools/daycares were closed (21%).

The survey is part of an ongoing series about the country's response to the H1N1 flu outbreak undertaken by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at HSPH. The polling was done July 16-August 12, 2009.

"Businesses need to start planning how to adjust their operations to account for greater absenteeism and to slow the spread of H1N1 in the workplace," said Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at HSPH.

[[Click here for the complete survey.]] LINK
[[Click here for the charts.]] LINK

Likelihood and Impact of Serious Outbreak

Just over half of businesses in the U.S. (52%) believe there will be a more widespread and more severe outbreak of novel influenza A (H1N1) in the fall. If such an outbreak does occur, 84% of firms are concerned that it will negatively affect their business.

Surviving Absenteeism

One key reason that businesses may be concerned is that they have a limited ability to maintain operations successfully if a significant portion of their workforce is absent due to an outbreak of H1N1. Only a third of businesses believe they could avoid having severe operational problems for 2 weeks if 50% of their wo
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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