News Article

latest news in employment law

Businesses & Pandemics

Published 01 Jun 2009

According to the World Health Organisation there is a pandemic of H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) in existence right now. It's time to act. Today it has been announced that Bird Flu is an amalgam.

We strongly advise our clients to check their Employment Agreements regarding options if a closedown or a closure is required. EAL Employment Agreements cover this.

Reports suggest that the Government is contemplating new regulations to help manage a pandemic of this nature and that the disease is to be added to the list of Notifiable Diseases. Under the terms of the Health Act 1956, the Medical Officers of Health still have the power to isolate people who are considered a risk of spreading the virus.

Unions have expressed concern about where the costs of wages should lie when isolation is forced on employees.

While it can be argued that an employee's need to preserve sick leave and annual holidays (therefore the boss should stand the costs) for the appropriate purpose, the costs will be severe enough to bankrupt many already fragile businesses. If this occurs the recession will move several more employees to the WINZ line and take millions of dollars out of the economy.

We note that most EAL clients are in no position to bear costs of an epidemic such as swine flu.

We see the management of the Swine Flu Pandemic within every business as four separate phases.
  • Prevention
  • Policies, procedures and actions when positive tests of staff are reported (or contacts with infected people)
  • Business as usual - survival mode
  • Disaster recovery
For more information please see our information pack on Businesses & Swine Flu. Employer Support Package members please take the time to read this in the Library section of the Employers Toolbox online, others may purchase online.

For help with your OSH programme and Swine Flu management our OSH Department and can assist any business with OSH or Swine Flu management. They can be contacted through our 0800 15 8000 number, e-mail is