With the threat of Bird Flu appearing to grow ever closer the Government has published it's UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan, which starts with the quote "Most experts believe that it is not a question of whether there will be another severe influenza pandemic, but when." However among the scaremoungering, key questions remain; what can employee's and employer expect, and what advice does the Government give.
The Government suggest that businesses should have a continuity plan, which should be based on 25% of workers having to take time off over a period of 3 – 4 months. The Government also suggest that organisations consider the following
- Establishing a minimum staffing level
- Identifying a "front line" group of essential staff
- Considering the need to transfer or redeploy staff to do jobs that they may not be trained to do, or be familiar with, or to recruit additional staff and volunteer
- Ensuring a system for vetting additional staff, including volunteer
- Accommodation, for example portacabins with bunk beds in which staff can rest between shifts, or if there are problems with transport home.
The Government also emphasises the need for additional education and training, as well psychological and moral boosting support during added stress at work due to increased work load compounded by anxiety for the saftey of family and loved ones.
HSBC has already formulated its contingency plans that include offices being cleaned every hour and preparing to utilise new technologies by having staff work from home, or via video or telephone link.
There is every reason to expect that with forward planning, and a stock of vaccination, any pandemic that does come to Britain does not need to be as decimating as the Spanish Flu in 1918.