Employers may be pushing more workers back into the office. But that’s proving to be an uphill battle, especially with the onset of colds and flu..

A triple whammy of the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and new variants of Covid are already taking hold, forcing some workers to call in sick.

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Show that Respiratory disease activity is high or high In 22 US states, the biggest culprit right now is the flu.

And employers are already concerned about increased absenteeism. A recent survey by human resources consultancy Mercer found that almost half of the largest employers surveyed said that Covid-related absenteeism was the only concern. Among them, nearly a third said their operations could be affected by acute illness, with the rest due to isolation and quarantine.

Despite concerns about employees being yelled at, most employers no longer require anyone to wear a mask in the workplace. About 15 percent of large employers have dropped their Covid vaccination requirements, Mercer said. And most employees who own them won’t let them take the latest incentive shot.

Here are six steps employers can take to reduce the risk of spreading viruses in the workplace and reduce employee absenteeism.

It has also been shown that the covid and flu vaccines do not prevent a person from becoming infected. Reduce the weight The pain.

If employers don’t mandate vaccinations and boosters, they should encourage employees to get them, said Devjani Mishara, an employment attorney at Littler Mendelson. And if possible, make it easy for them to do so – for example, by providing a list of locations that offer flu shots and Covid boosters on-site or nearby.

Before the outbreak, many workers showed up to work with a cold or flu just to make sure they were dedicated.

Telling employees to stay home when they’re sick is key to making sure they don’t spread what they’ve got.

If someone comes in with a hacking cough or other obvious sign of being unwell, employers should encourage them to go home. If they choose to stay, they should be told to sit apart from others and wear a mask. Both are legitimate requests because they diminish the steps an employer can take to ensure a safe workplace, Mishra said.

“If an employee is coughing and sneezing and won’t go to class alone, an employer always has the ability to tell,’We are concerned that there may be a health risk to yourself or others,” she said.

Whichever approach the employer chooses, This approach should be applied to all people infected with the virus, Mishra said. “Treat everyone the same.”

[Note: Employers should also follow guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration when someone has Covid.]

Offering paid sick leave is a great way to make employees feel comfortable calling in sick.

However, many employers do not offer paid sick leave and may only offer a few paid personal days. “This does not give people the flexibility to stay at home. [when they’re sick]” said Mishra.

When A worker comes in sick, the bosses have to ask why. Maybe not the employee. Do you want to burn the few personal or vacation days you get? loss on the payment date.

Also, what employers should really check and recheck [paid leave] It’s available through state and local laws,” Mishra said, noting that many local governments have adopted new types of paid time off requirements in recent years. “Not every employer is on it.”

Although the employer requires each person to be on site for a certain number of days each week, with permission workers Sick work at home helps prevent the spread of diseases. “Consider being flexible,” says Mishra.

Good news: Mercer He says that he got many customers The note. “Employers are more flexible about where and when they work than they were before Covid,” said Rich Fuerstenberg, senior partner at Mercer.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, absenteeism due to childcare issues peaked in October. This may be due in part to respiratory viruses. Hit hard this year.

Even if working parents and their children don’t get sick themselves, when If there is an outbreak of covid or RSV cases in a nursery or primary school, the parents must stay home to take care of the children.

Mishra pointed out.

The first public health message regarding Covid was “wear a mask to protect others”.

If an employer doesn’t require employees to wear masks this winter, they should Publicly support what they choose to hold and wear.

Mary Kay O’Neill, a partner in Mercer’s health and benefits practice, said it’s important to remind employees that wearing masks has another benefit. “Wearing a mask is for prevention. you.”

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