The Small Business Administration recently published “Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza Season Preparedness Guide for Small Business.”
Here are seven H1N1 preparedness steps that the government recommends you review and apply as appropriate to your place of business:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.