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Managing Seasonal Viruses in the Workplace

By Faye Lewis

The Government is rolling out Covid and flu vaccinations a month earlier than planned this year, and as flu season approaches now is a good opportunity to review your position on managing Covid and other infectious viruses in the workplace.

Limiting the spread of viruses within the workforce

In order to protect their team, many employers have implemented policies that require employees to inform them of a positive case of Covid and remain home on pay until they test negative or at least take additional precautionary measures if attending the workplace, such as wearing a face mask, distancing from others and sanitising surfaces regularly.

It is important to ensure workplace practices are put in place to limit the chances of any viruses spreading amongst the team, and that employees are given a refresher on what they need to do to follow these rules. This is likely to include a reminder to employees of the problems of presenteeism, when an employee attends work when they are too unwell to be there.

Not only can this lead to stress and burnout on a personal level, but for those that are office or site-based, it can also increase the risk of the illness spreading through the workforce.

There are various steps that can be taken to prevent the transmission of Covid, flu and cold viruses in the workplace. These include:

  • remaining vigilant about hygiene, particularly handwashing

  • good ventilation

  • social distancing

  • encouraging employees to work at home or partly at home.

Now that hybrid working has become established in many businesses, a transition to temporary home working during a bout of Covid or another virus, where the employee is well enough to work but could pass the illness on to others, should be easier to arrange. Taking steps now to ensure employees have what they need to work in such a situation would mean there is time to make any additional arrangements, should it be necessary to implement this.

Next steps

Covid has not gone away along with other viruses and illnesses, so businesses must remain prepared to react swiftly should a case arise within their workforce, to prevent widespread absences related to it spreading.

Making sure there are policies and procedures in place dealing with these situations is important, as is raising awareness amongst employees as to what they should do, should they suspect or know they are unwell with a contagious illness.

Line managers may also need to be reminded of their role in controlling and managing these situations, to ensure they have a good understanding of the steps they need to take, should they need to.

If you’re unsure of how to effectively manage flu season, or you require help creating and implementing a Covid policy, here at Second Chapter we are more than happy to help. Give us a call on 0114 437 2726 or alternatively send us an email at

About Faye Lewis

Faye Lewis is HR Business Partner at Second Chapter. With a degree in Events Management and CIPD Level 5 in People Management, she looks to make an informed decision, working hard to achieve the best outcome for all. Her professional passion is providing training and development programmes to share information and learn from others. Outside of work her interests are finding new eateries and walking her Lhasa Apso Basil.

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