Flu Bug To Hit Businesses Where It Hurts

Discussion
Oct 12, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Typically, in recent years, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population has gotten the flu. This year, however, is promising to be anything but typical after the availability of flu vaccine was essentially cut in half when U.K. regulators closed the Chiron plant that produced it.


A USA Today report, says businesses can expect to see decreases in productivity as the number of unscheduled absences rises.


According to the same report, flu vaccination programs may save U.S. companies up to $12 billion in sick pay annually.


Retailers, with a workforce that works with the public, are especially at risk to unscheduled absences by employees.


Home Depot is one of the companies that has not been able to inoculate employees because of the vaccine shortage. A spokesperson for the company, Wendi Bailey, said, “The phones (from stores wanting information) are ringing off the hook. Right now we’re focusing on prevention messages, taking care of yourself.”


Moderator’s Comments: Do you expect missed days by employees to be a significant issue for retailers this flu season? What can companies do to minimize
the impact of employee absences?


CCH, a provider of employment law information, said that employee absences are already running at a five-year high and flu season is not yet here. The company
estimates unscheduled absences cost companies $610 per employee on average.

George Anderson – Moderator

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