In the midst of the unofficial flu season, it’s important for employers to maintain a healthy and safe workplace for its employees. Employers have a general obligation to educate employees on up-to-date health and safety regulations and to take every precaution to provide a workplace free of hazards. Beyond abstaining from perfume and cologne, employers need to educate their employees, take precautions, and plan ahead.

Education

Encourage employees to learn about ongoing outbreaks from credible sources – like the World Health Organization – and teach them how to decipher misinformation from fact. Inform and remind them of their allotment of sick (paid leave) days. Consider revisiting your work-from-home policies and allowing them to telecommute more often than they normally do.

Plans

Draft plans for ‘worst case’ scenarios. In some circumstances, employees may refuse to work, make demands typically considered unreasonable or unrealistic, or discriminate against other employees. If your workplace receives many visitors, ensure they’re aware of current workplace policies. Review your current health and safety policies and analyze areas that may need an update.

Precautions

Don’t take standard hygienic precautions lightly. Employees should thoroughly wash hands with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds after eating, using the restroom, or making contact with frequently touched surfaces. It’s recommended that everyone cleans their cells phones with sanitizing wipes daily. If necessary, provide employees with personal hygiene products for their personal workspace. Advise them to remain at home if they feel ill or exhibit flu-like symptoms.

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