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Swine flu:layoutSWINE FLU
Who is most vulnerable?
Guidance for HR
Dr. Easmon cited those who are pregnant orobese or those with a suppressed immune Practitioners
system or major respiratory problems.
Tamiflu is the traditional option prescribed by
Doctors with a medication called Relenza being The City HR Association organised a member symposium to discuss the wealth of information available regarding Swine Flu and thesteps that individual organisations were taking to deal with this The session was hosted and facilitated by Andrew Davenport and It was suggested that individuals ring the James Taylor, Simmons & Simmons, together with medical advice established NHS Direct helpline on 0845 4647 provided by an expert speaker, Dr. Charlie Easmon.
(www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) or the NationalPandemic Flu Services on 0800 1513 513 All parties agreed that an Information Sheet would be produced (www.direct.gov.uk/swineflu) to see if their providing a checklist of issues to be considered by HR practitioners symptoms match those associated with swine flu.
for the benefit of City HR members and HR colleagues. This If this is the case, the individual should remain at document is the outcome of the facilitated discussion panel and home to avoid infecting other staff. Alternatively, sets out to provide a commentary on current City practice together they can call their GP, but should not visit the with a checklist of actions that can be taken and a summary list of surgery if Tamiflu is prescribed and a ‘flu friend’ should be sent to pick up the prescription. What is Swine Flu?
On average, the individual should remain away The National Health Service defines this as a respiratory disease from the office for up to 7 days, although those which has some elements of a virus found in pigs.
suffering from Swine Flu (as with seasonal flu)may need longer to recuperate.
What are the symptoms?
What about expatriate staff in the UK?
According to the NHS guidelines, some of the symptoms are thesudden onset of fever, cough or shortness of breath. Other Human Resource Practitioners should take extra symptoms can include headache, sore throat, tiredness, aching care to ensure that they have registered with a muscles, chills, sneezing, runny nose or loss of appetite.
GP on their arrival in the UK and check that theexpatriate staff member has someone to be their How does seasonal flu differ from a pandemic?
According to Dr. Charlie Easmon, seasonal flu happens every year, And employees travelling abroad?
usually around September and attacks 5% - 15% of the population.
Its UK mortality rate is in the region of 3,000 to 12,000 individuals.
Ideally, employees should stick to essential travel The elderly and people whose immune system has been or research their destination to understand the suppressed by other illnesses are most vulnerable to death. The risk of infection – or being diagnosed with swine Government vaccinates 14 million people every year.
flu – in that region. This can be researched viathe Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Conversely, a pandemic occurs approximately once every 33 years, www.fco.gov.uk/en/. Above all, HR practitioners is not seasonal and attacks around 30% - 40% of the population. It lasts for a minimum of 9 months and then comes in further waves.
Swine Flu started in April, so strictly speaking it is not yet a travel. In the City HR symposium only a very pandemic, but the medical profession is waiting to see if further small number were providing – or considering – swine flu packs for those travelling abroad.
What about Business Continuity Planning?
Two legal pointers:
A suggested approach is contained in the checklist on page 2 of this Companies must comply with their legal obligations document. A key consideration is the potential closure of schools in to do all that is reasonable practicable to ensure the the event of a pandemic as well as provision for working from home.
health and safety of their staff. It should be notedthat what is considered to be reasonable is not a It was suggested that companies should look at the demographics static response and is likely to evolve as the of their business, particularly at the number of female workers (or pandemic progresses. Official guidance can assist in prime carers) with children under the age of 14, as this population helping determine what is considered to be may need emergency time off to care for dependents in the event reasonable, likewise, sharing experience with peers and professional organisations will also assist in In terms of home working, this could apply to various categories of determining what preventative steps are being staff, including those effectively in quarantine. However, it was adopted and whether there is a general consensus recognised that City firms may have difficulties with allowing their It is recommended that companies formally riskassess the specific risks posed by Swine Flu and Additional hygiene methods?
to record this in writing. This assessment should Most companies attending the symposium had increased hygiene be kept up-to-date and it is important to ensure that any recommended mitigation measures are Ⅵ Antibacterial handwash in the reception and individual offices Finally, a point of caution
Ⅵ Stricter cleaning controls with office cleaning conducted twice These notes and the associated checklist, are the daily in some organisations. Also ensuring the regular outcome of a City HR Association symposium and sterilisation of door handles, PCs, telephones and other are for guidance purposes only. Organisations ‘communal equipment’ via their cleaning company Ⅵ Greater dialogue with their cleaning company, to ensure that promote the well-being of their employees. This optional standards are being applied. Also the purchase of needs to be done in a way that ensures both antibacterial and sterilising products via their cleaning company organisational business continuity and legal to encourage greater usage of these products.
obligations are key factors in decision making andthat solutions demonstrate both creativity and Some data from organisations attending the symposium
Ⅵ 90% of organisations had experienced at least one staff member Regular bulletins are available via the Chief Medical Officer, the NHS, the World Health Organisation and the Health Protection Agencywhose details are given on the accompanying Ⅵ The remainder rely on Government or their Medical Provider It is strongly recommended that organisations Ⅵ All firms were communicating with staff on swine flu, ranging regularly review the advice given and print off any from general advice on absence, travel and hygiene to providing guidance given on these websites to substantiate their decision-making on the day it appears.
Ⅵ Only 2 organisations had stockpiled Tamiflu but around 50% had Please note that as the websites get updated, the their company Doctor on standby to deal with emergency cases information (quite rightly) takes on a new dimension so guidance that was adhered to in A large number were keeping a watching brief on the Foreign June may not still be there in September! It is and Commonwealth Office website for international travel information source so that the basis of decisions Ⅵ One company issue thermometers for staff to make a daily The following checklist is a quick reference Swine Flu Information Guide which companies may Ⅵ All companies had stepped up cleaning and hygiene and most wish to adapt for their own purposes.
had handwash and wipes readily available.
City HR Association / Simmons & Simmons
SWINE FLU CHECKLIST
HR Advice to Employees who may be Affected
Practical Steps to Minimising Swine Flu
If at home either:
Ⅵ Provide handwipes, handgel and other products to Ⅵ call the NHS Direct helpline on 0845 4647 or Ⅵ Use wipes for computers and telephone equipment Ⅵ call National Pandemic Flu Services on 0800 1513 513 Ⅵ Put up general health posters such as “Coughs and If at work:
Sneezes Spread Diseases” or posters encouraging Ⅵ call Human Resources to see if a referral to Company Ⅵ Provide regularly advice and updates on health and Ⅵ call numbers outlined above and go home if case is Ensure that all expatriate staff are registered with a GP
or provide Company Doctor details
Ensure that all expatriate staff have a flu friend
Ⅵ Liaise with cleaning company to ensure cleaners are How to Obtain Anti Viral Drugs
Ⅵ Consider buying cleaning products via your company Advise employee to contact own General Practitioner,
the NHS helpline or the National Pandemic Flu Service
Alternatively, employees may be referred to Company
Ⅵ Consider home working for those affected/potentially HR could consider:-
Ⅵ Consider different arrival and leaving times for Ⅵ Stockpiling Tamiflu (small number of companies have Impose quarantine of up to 7 days for those
Ⅵ Appointing a private supplier (such as Company Health and safety
Encourage employees to seek medical advice before
Ⅵ identify what is good practice as H&S risk will increase travelling about obtaining drugs if ill overseas
Consider issuing Swine Flu packs to employees
Ⅵ continue knowledge sharing via websites, company undertaking essential business travel
medical advisors, Government sources, World Health Business Contingency Planning (BCP)
Role of HR in Swine Flu
Review Bird Flu Policies and update with Swine Flu
In most organisations, HR will play a key role in Swine
Flu advice, reporting and administration
Design a Swine Flu policy
Act as a hub
Check employee demographics in case of largescale
Swine Flu absence
Review or develop related HR policies:
Ⅵ Number of female workers or prime dependents with Ⅵ either update sickness / domestic leave / flexible children under 14 who would be affected by school Ⅵ Number of vulnerable staff (eg pregnant women, staff with respiratory or immune issues) to see if commuting Provide regular management information
arrangements should be varied or work from home Ⅵ Areas where staff levels cannot fall beneath a certain Ⅵ update senior management on latest Swine Flu advice Establish a centralised reporting system
Provide regular staff communication
Ⅵ Track absence and consider resourcing needs Ⅵ On medical advice, business contingency plans, what Establish work from home and flexible working
to do if affected, options for flexible working and arrangements
Determine Business Travel Policy – limit to essential
Ⅵ Via updates, bulletins, email, intranet, posters travel only
Institute good communications
Ⅵ contact legal department or employment lawyers if Regularly review Government, Medical Provider and
unsure on how to handle sensitive cases relating to world health advice to moderate business operations
vulnerable staff or unforeseen issues arising from Ask key suppliers about their business contingency
Ⅵ document any advice given – on the date it is given – together with any relevant download from internet as foundation for key business decisions.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND LATEST GUIDANCE
Health Protection Agency website: www.hpa.org.uk CMO (Chief Medical Officer):www.dh.gov.uk/en/Aboutus/MinistersandDepartmentLeaders/ChiefMedicalOfficer World Health Organisation website: www.who.int Foreign & Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk/en Simmons & Simmons publication: Swine flu – an employer’s international checklist
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