As much as we hate to admit it, the flu season is one of the worst seasons that affect workplace productivity everywhere. Over the years, several companies have recorded severe cases of winter flu that forced many of their employees to call in for sick leave. Although calling in for leave is an efficient way to keep the spread of the infection in check, it affects the overall productivity of the company. How to have a healthy workplace the flu season. 

Since the flu season does not discriminate, the best strategy for companies is to be proactive and come up with measures to limit the impact of winter flu on employee well being and corporate well being. Seeing that the flu season will start soon, it’s never too soon to consider taking steps to prepare against the effect.

Interestingly, some employees prefer to resume for work even when they are sick. This is often because such employee believes that they should not be too sick to show up for work. Although this is an encouraging sight: knowing that your employees are committed to the cause of the company so much that they are willing to work even when they have flu, you must, however, strive to maintain the health of other team members and help such employee manage their flu.

There are several steps and tips that a company can employ to sustain a healthy team and protect team members even when some members of the team are sick. The way to eliminate the risk of infection by healthy workers is to limit their exposure to contacting the flu. This might seem impossible since it is difficult to eliminate physical contacts like shaking of hands from regular office work, however, it is achievable.

Below are some ways to keep the workplace healthy during the winter flu season.

  1. Start with a suggestion of working from home: although some employees still show up for work when they are not feeling well, you can advise them to take sick leave. Some would, however, refuse to take the leave because they don’t want to disappoint their team or let them down. As much as their intention is good, make them understand that they can still support their team members from home. If you are unable to convince them otherwise, do not stop them from coming in for work.
  2. Vaccination: Vaccination is one of the numerous ways that you can employ to protect the healthy employees from contacting the winter flu. Such vaccines provide much-needed antibodies for protection against infections.
  3. Maintain good hygiene: An improvement to the basic office hygiene is another step to prevent the spread of winter flu and maintain a healthy team. This includes sanitizing the surfaces, equipment, and other work tools several times before the end of the day to ensure that they are germ-free. companies should also provide for the supply of tissues, and sanitizers that infected employees can make use of during office hours.
  4. Teach good office hygiene: Companies can also go the extra mile by teaching their employees about basic etiquettes like covering the mouth when they sneeze or cough, disposing of used tissues appropriately, washing the hands with soap and water, how to blow their nose, etc. This will go a long way in curbing infection in the workplace.
  5. Onsite preventive medication: immediately winter flu starts to hit hard, companies should introduce emergency kit in the office to cater for infected employees. It costs little and goes a long way in ensuring the health of the workforce.
  6. Develop a policy about workplace health and infections: design a clear structure that addresses sickness in the workplace and how it is to be addressed. The policy should cover who employees should report to when they feel sick, the sickness level that the company can take, and how sick leaves can be enforced if the need ever arises.

It is encouraging to discover employees that are willing to come to work even when they are not feeling too good. As much as this is good, it should not put other members of the team at risk. When employees decide not to stay at home, organizations should implement the suggestions above to keep the workplace healthy.

Workplace Entitlements 

Paid sick & carer’s leave – An employee can take paid sick leave when they can’t work because of a personal illness or injury. This can include stress and pregnancy related illnesses. An employee can take paid carer’s leave to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency.

Who gets paid sick and carer’s leave? – All employees except casuals are entitled to paid sick and carer’s leave. Employees may have to give notice or evidence to get paid for sick and carer’s leave. 

How much paid sick and carer’s leave does an employee get? – Sick and carer’s leave comes under the same leave entitlement. It’s also known as personal / carer’s leave.

Employees get:

  • 10 days each year for full-time employees
  • pro rata of 10 days each year depending on their hours of work for part-time employees.

A registered agreement can set out different entitlements to paid sick and carer’s leave, but it can’t be less than the minimum above.

How does paid sick and carer’s leave accumulate? – Full-time and part-time employees accumulate sick and carer’s leave during a year of work. It starts to build up from an employee’s first day of work and is based on the number of hours they work. The balance at the end of each year carries over to the next year.

Sick and carer’s leave accumulates when an employee is on:

  • paid leave such as paid annual leave and paid sick and carer’s leave
  • community service leave including jury duty
  • long service leave.

Sick and carer’s leave does not accumulate when the employee is on:

  • unpaid annual leave
  • unpaid sick/carer’s leave
  • unpaid parental leave
  • unpaid family and domestic violence leave.

How much paid sick and carer’s leave can an employee take? – An employee can take as much paid sick or carer’s leave as they have accumulated. There is no minimum or maximum amount of paid sick or carer’s leave that can be taken at a time.

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