Federal Guidelines Suggest Employers Plan for Swine Flu

CDC suggestions range from hand-washing to more major changes in business operations

THURSDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a series of guidelines for employers to protect the health of their employees and their businesses' bottom lines in the event of an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu over the fall and winter.

While it is not known whether the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus will bring more illness or more severe illness this flu season, health authorities are advocating that employers be prepared. The advisory guidelines recommend a range of measures, from simple hygiene such as increased hand-washing and environmental cleaning, to more major changes to operations, such as minimizing face-to-face meetings and business travel.

The CDC suggestions include offering an employee flu vaccination program or actively encouraging employees to get vaccinated elsewhere; advising people to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms; allowing some at-risk employees to work from home; and reviewing sick leave policies to accommodate employees who may have to stay home to care for an ill child or other family member or if their child's school is closed.

"This new guidance will help our private sector partners continue to prepare for the upcoming flu season to keep our economy functioning and our critical infrastructure secure. Ensuring business continuity is important to our cooperative efforts to keep Americans safe," Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, said in a statement.

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