In case you do not know, sick people roaming freely in your workspace are costing your real money. Moreover, their presence in the office clearly displays that your managers are undermining the power of the flu.
Recent reports show that this year’s flu outbreak has been deadlier than usual. It could lead to $15.4 billion losses for the U.S. businesses. The latest influenza strain is active in 49 states and is almost approaching the strength of the 2014-2015 flue outbreak that led to approximately 56000 deaths. Almost 6.4% of all the patients visiting the doctors are flu patients. And, there are no signs of the situation getting any better. Based on a report by the Centers for Disease Control, it has been found that Puerto Rico, New York, and 39 other states have been declared as “increased activity zones.” District of Columbia and Hawaii are the only places with fewer flu cases.
In Southern California, parking lots are being converted into makeshift hospitals by installing tents, to meet the growing demand for hospital beds. Schools have reported that 17%-20% students as absence each day since the sudden spread of the flu. The usual absence rate is 5%-7%. Infants and baby boomers are the most affected ones. Reports suggest that almost 185 children, mostly infants have succumbed to the flu. 69 adult death cases have been reported by the Arkansas Health Department, and a state of public emergency was declared by Alabama.
Aren’t these numbers enough to show employers the gravity of the situation? Instead of showing appreciation for workers who are showing up sick, coughing and sneezing throughout the day, employers should display empathy and request them to return home. An even better way of handling the situation is sending an e-mail to the entire organization, requesting the staff members to rest at home if they observe any signs of flu. Employers have the right to send sick workers home.
The usual 5-day sick leave benefit should be extended to the employees to keep them from coming to work until they’ve recovered from the flu. An infected person can spread the flu to others, especially those who have a low immune system. The first symptoms of the flu appear two to three days after contracting the infection and can last up to a week or ten days.
In case your company does not provide employees with the sick leave period or sick leave policy, you can still ask them to work from home and not come to work. Allowing them to work from the office can pose a threat to others on your team. Flu is not covered by FMLA and ADA as such. Only the more complicated cases that meet certain criteria are covered by FMLA.