Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Statesman Journal Column May 20

Businesses must plan for sick workers

Be prepared and know what to do when staffers are unable to come to work

Jennifer Bailey

Has anyone in your company been sick this year? Have employees had to stay home with sick children? Have employees come to work sick and spread germs to others just because you didn't have any other way to stay in business?

When we think of disasters, we usually think of flooding or winter storms. The recent flu scare was a bit of a wake-up call to some. Sick employees can be a disaster that will cause businesses to suffer, and in this economy most can't afford to be closed even one day.

Previously, we have discussed what small businesses can do to stay in business immediately after a big storm, stressing the importance of having a Continuity of Operations Plan. If your business does not have such a plan, you may find yourself floundering when your employees call in sick.

To make sure your business continues running smoothly with fewer employees, include a section of information in your Continuity of Operations Plan that addresses this issue. When you write your epidemic Continuity of Operations Plan, a few questions that need to be answered are:

-Who will be in charge, and who will take over if that person is not available?

-Who can work from home?

-Which staffers, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating?

-Do you have an emergency fund to get through tough times?

-How can you provide good customer service and meet deadlines with fewer employees?

More information about Continuity of Operations Plan plans is available on the Internet, and Oregon Emergency Management would also be happy to assist. Planning ahead can save you money.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the Public Affairs Coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294, or

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