Pandemic Policies: Note Just for a Flu Outbreak

Now the first thing I want to say is that yes, you do need policies to deal with the absence of staff during a pandemic outbreak; I’m not suggesting otherwise.  What I do what to make clear is that mature organizations should already have some of these policies in place.  Huh?  How could they already have them in place if the last pandemic wages probably before many companies even existed?

            Well, a pandemic outbreak is a disaster – a disaster that for most purposes will reduce the number of people available to work for a corporation.  Now this could mean they are ill themselves or family members are sick; it can even be that they are unavailable because their site has been quarantined and they can’t get into the office and they don’t have the capability to work from home.  Maybe their young child is home from school and they cannot come in to look after them because day care centres are closed; and again, they can’t work from home.

            It doesn’t matter the trigger – or the reason – for the unavailable employee, what matters is that regardless of the trigger it has made a percentage of people unavailable to work.  The disaster has reduced the number of employees available to allow a company to continue normal business operations. 

            So, if a disaster occurs there will be instances – no may be instances – where employees are not available to come to the office.  This could be because the main location has been harmed as a result of the disaster and they can’t continue in the facility.  If so, there may be many employees who are told to stay home until further notice; until their department can continue operations again because their function has been suspended for a duration of time.  When this is the case the employee will want to know if they are going to be paid or not; will they have to give up vacation time to sit at home simply because – of no fault of their own – they are told to stay at home.  Do they get paid?  What’s the policy?

            This is the same policy that would be used during a pandemic outbreak.  If people are told to stay away from the office but are in perfect health and have not signs of illness, will they get paid for being told to stay home?  Will they have to use their vacation time, sick time or flex hours (whatever the work arrangements are for the organization) because the organization said they are to stay home.  It’s no fault of the employee they are to stay home. 

            So the same questions and policies can be addressed, the stay home directive and resulting policy – to pay or not to pay – still comes into play.  That is why a mature organization should be able to piggyback off of existing policies that develop pandemic specific policies from the start. 

            Many of the policies can be utilized for multiple disasters and granted, some can simply be focused on pandemic specific topics.  But if an organization has a mature BCM program, those working on pandemic issues – if a different set of people – should be able to review existing policies and add pandemic components to it to make the policies more robust.  There should be no reason to have to create every policy from scratch; if they do, then the BCM program may not be a mature as a corporation thinks it is. 

            Here are a few examples of policies that should be considered from BCM programs and Pandemic Planning.  Some may already exist as Human Resource policies while others may be specific to the BCM program.  Either way, these are policies that can be utilized by an organization.

  1. Requesting EAP Support
  2. Sick Time – Confirmed Pandemic Influenza Infection
  3. Sick Time – Suspected Pandemic Influenza Infection
  4. Caring for a Sick Relative / Friend
  5. Relatives in the Workplace
  6. Working from Home
  7. Fear of Coming to Work
  8. Utilization of Skills
  9. School or Daycare Closures
  10. Hiring
  11. Overtime Compensation
  12. Car-Pools
  13. Public Transportation
  14. Vacation Travel During a Pandemic
  15. Inter-Office Meetings and Business Travel
  16. Business Travel Restrictions (Global)
  17. Training and Social Activities in the Workplace
  18. Bereavement Leave
  19. Visitors to EQ Life Facilities
  20. Employee and Visitor Self-Screening

 In the meantime, stay fit an stay healthy!

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