The H1N1 outbreak is continuing to spread across Canada. Although the spread of the virus appears to have peaked in Mexico, it is important to note that pandemics usually occur in waves. The World Health Organization is maintaining its Phase 5 pandemic alert level, which signals that a pandemic is imminent. Organizations can act now to be prepared for the next wave, should one occur.
The key impact on employers in a pandemic is absenteeism and its effect on business continuity. In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that up to 30 per cent of the workforce might be absent at the height of the pandemic. Based on its research, The Conference Board of Canada recommends that when developing pandemic preparedness plans, organizations review sick leave policies and encourage good hygiene practices.