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If You Haven't Yet, Plan Now for a Pandemic, CCH Advises Employers
Date:4/29/2009

s almost a 100-percent increase over 2006, when only 14 percent of companies surveyed had such plans, however, it still represented just over one in four organizations.

"In 2007, there was heightened awareness of the need for pandemic planning because of concern over a possible avian flu pandemic," Henson noted. "That outbreak never materialized; hopefully organizations have continued to develop plans in the meantime."

Must Address "Presenteeism"

In establishing a plan to cope with a possible pandemic, organizations must address the phenomenon known as "presenteeism," which occurs when employees show up for work sick. This can have a significant and costly impact on an organization, not only in terms of risking the spread of disease, but also in terms of diminished productivity, quality and attention to safety.

"We all know what it feels like to have the flu - you're not operating at 100 percent, you may not even be operating at 50 percent," said CCH Employment Law Analyst Brett Gorovsky, JD. "The bottom line for most organizations is that it's in everyone's best interest for sick workers to simply stay away, even in normal times."

"Employers need to discourage both the 'hero employee' - and even more so, the 'hero boss' - who try to muddle their way through the day when they shouldn't," said Gorovsky. "Employees are sensitive to the differences between what management says and what it means, and when they see their supervisors coming in sick, they're convinced that's what's expected of them also."

Organizations that build pandemic plans may also help address their everyday presenteeism issues.

"As part of developing a pandemic plan, organizations need to thoroughly examine all their practices and procedures," said Gorovsky. "Many organizations that take these steps will then roll them out as part of their overall HR practices, making sure they're a
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SOURCE CCH, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business
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