the nation prepares for a potentially broader outbreak of the H1N1 flu this
fall and winter, the government is reaching out to small business owners to
help defend against the impact and threat of a more serious pandemic.
week the Small Business Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and
Department of Homeland Security published its Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza Season Preparedness Guide for Small Business (www.sba.gov/flu) on its Disaster Preparedness
guide is intended to help U.S.
small business owners understand what impact the 2009/2010 H1N1 flu might have
on their operations and to stress the importance of developing and
communicating a plan for preparedness and response to its employees.
no one can predict the severity of the return of H1N1 this season, given that
small businesses are the nation’s largest employers, and, as the guide states
“…the backbone of private sector and their local communities…”, the government
isn’t taking any chances.
to help, in the government’s own words, “…ensure the wheels of the nation’s
economy continue to turn, even if faced with absenteeism, restricted services,
and supply chain disruptions…”, here are seven H1N1 preparedness steps that the
government recommends you review and apply as appropriate to your place of
1. Identify a Workplace Coordinator –This person would be the single point of contact for
all issues relating to H1N1 and be responsible for reaching out to community
health providers and implementing protocols for dealing with ill employees – in
advance of any outbreak or impact on the business.
2. Examine Policies for Leave, Telework and Employee
Compensation – Obviously this will vary
by business, but the emphasis here is on refreshing yourself and your employees
about what your company’s health care plans cover in the event of sick leave as
a result of H1N1. You should also re-evaluate leave policies to ensure a
flexible non-punitive plan that allows for impacted individuals to stay at
home. Employees may also need to stay at home to care for sick children or
telework in the event of school closures – so be prepared for this by
implementing appropriate teleworking infrastructures in advance.
3. Determine who will be Responsible for Assisting – Appoint an individual or individuals who will be
on-hand to assist ill personnel at your workplace – essentially a “go-to”
person, who may be the same as the person chosen as your workplace coordinator.
4. Identify Essential Employees, Essential Business
Functions, and Other Critical Inputs
– Make plans to maintain communication and ensure clear work direction with
critical personnel and vendors (and even customers) in the event that the
supply chain is broken or other unpredictable disruptions occur.
5. Share your Pandemic Plans with Employees and Clearly
Communicate Expectations – Consider posting
a bi-lingual version of your preparedness plan, leave information, health tips,
and other H1N1 awareness resources across all your work locations and online if
you operate an Intranet.
6. Prepare Business Continuity Plans – Absenteeism or other work place changes need to be
addressed early on so you can maintain business operations. Get tips on common
sense measures your business can take from Business.gov here.
7. Establish an Emergency Communication Plan – Hopefully your business already has some form of
emergency communication plan. If not, document your key business contacts (with
back-ups), the chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and
processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
the full report for more guidance, including tips for maintain a healthy
workplace, as well as looking after your own health this flu season.