Business Preparedness for H1N1

Business Preparedness for H1N1

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FIELD DATES: July 16 – August 12, 2009


  • Likelihood and impact of serious outbreak – Just over half of businesses in the U.S. (52%) believed there will be a more widespread and more severe outbreak of novel influenza A (H1N1) in the fall. If such an outbreak was to occur, 84% of firms were concerned that it would negatively affect their business.
  • Dealing with absenteeism and mitigation strategies – Businesses have a limited ability to maintain operations successfully if a significant portion of their workforce is absent due to H1N1. Many businesses would also face serious problems implementing mitigation strategies for long periods of time to slow the spread of H1N1. 
  • Leave policies – Three-quarters (74%) of businesses offered paid sick leave for at least some employees. Fewer offered paid leave that would allow employees to take care of sick family members (35%) or to take time off to care for children if schools/daycares closed (21%). About one in 10 businesses (12%) made changes to their employee policies after the spring outbreak of H1N1. However, few businesses that did not currently offer leave anticipated adding new leave policies in the wake of a more severe outbreak in the fall. 
  • Information needs – Businesses reported being interested in learning more about how to support their business and employees in a serious outbreak. Interest was highest for information about keeping employees safe (77%), coping with a reduced workforce (59%) and planning for supply interruptions (59%). 

METHODS AND SAMPLE: Telephone poll conducted with a representative sample of Human Resources personnel at 1,057 businesses across the United States selected using randomization. It included samples of small (20-99 employees); medium (100-500 employees); and large (>500 employees) businesses.