Swine Flu is expected to force one in eight workers to stay home by September, according to Government figures.
At its peak, the influenza strain is expected to infect 100,000 people per day.
When combined with the peak season for staff annual holidays, the likely absences may cause businesses problems. Eversheds, an international law firm, has commented on the lack of legal clarity surrounding absences caused by Swine Flu.
"Issues such as how to address lack of attendance, workplace closures and what, if any, payments absent employees should receive can be legally complex," says Audrey Williams, partner at Eversheds.
"How an employer should respond will vary according to the particular issue and, unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. A starting point will be the contract of employment. For example, if a workplace is required to close temporarily, the contract may provide for enforced holiday or lay-offs. If employees cannot attend work because of their personal circumstances or travel facilities, there is unlikely to be a specific contractual term addressing this."
See the Retail Bulletin for more.