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

ve expect they would increase the number of employees who have sick leave, and 29% expect they would extend the amount of sick time employees can take if there were a serious outbreak.

A Note from the Doctor. In a widespread outbreak, many people may have problems getting to see a physician due to the number of sick individuals. This may pose a challenge for workers whose employers have policies requiring a note for absences or for returning to work after an illness. Nearly half of businesses that offer sick leave (43%) currently require a doctor's note to take that leave. More than two-thirds of businesses that offer sick leave (69%) require a doctor's note to return to work after contagious illnesses. Small businesses that offer sick leave are less likely than large businesses that offer sick leave to require a doctor's note to stay home (33% vs. 50%) or return to work (60% vs. 75%). Few businesses report that they are likely to change their policies in the event of a serious outbreak. Only 10% of those that currently require a doctor's note to stay home and 10% of those that require a note to return to work after a contagious illness predict they will no longer do so in the event of a serious outbreak.

Strategies to Slow the Spread of the Illness if the Outbreak Becomes More Severe

One of the approaches to slowing the spread of the H1N1 virus if it becomes more severe is to encourage businesses to adopt strategies to limit contact between employees and between employees and customers. If these policies were recommended, many businesses would face serious problems in implementing them for long periods of time. Roughly half of businesses could make changes for at least 1-2 weeks before they ran into significant problems. For example, almost six in ten (59%) could stagger shifts in order to increase distances between people at the business site and on mass transit for at least 1-2 weeks; 42% could stagger shifts for more than 4 we
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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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