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

rkforce were absent due to H1N1; less than a quarter (22%) of firms believe they could do so for a month. In general, more small businesses believe they would be able to avoid having severe operational problems with a reduced workforce as compared to large businesses. For example, small business are more likely than large businesses to say they could avoid having severe operational problems for 2 weeks if half their workforce were absent (40% vs. 27%), or to avoid having severe operational problems for a month if half their workforce were absent (27% vs. 18%).

Policies Affecting Employees in the Event of an H1N1 Outbreak

Leave Policies. Currently, three-quarters (74%) of businesses offer paid sick leave for at least some employees. Fewer offer paid leave that would allow employees to take care of sick family members (35%) or to take time off to care for children if schools/daycares closed (21%). Small businesses are less likely than medium or large businesses to offer paid leave for taking care of sick family members (27% vs. 40% and 43% respectively).

"Looking ahead, a critical issue will be that employees who must take care of children if they are sick or if schools and daycares close this fall may face financial troubles. Flexibility from employers can help," said Blendon.

About one in 10 businesses (12%) made changes to their employee policies after the spring outbreak of H1N1. However, few businesses that do not currently offer leave anticipate adding new leave policies in the wake of a more severe outbreak this fall. For example, only 6% of those who do not offer sick leave expect they will begin offering it if there is a serious outbreak. A minority of businesses currently offering leave to their employees believe they will enhance their existing leave policies by extending them to more employees or increasing the amount of time available if there were a serious outbreak. For example, 18% of firms offering sick lea
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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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