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Flu season puts businesses and employees in a bind

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013
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And no one is expected to come into work if sick, she says.

So far, the company hasn't seen an outbreak of flu cases.

"You keep your fingers crossed and hope it continues this way," Doyle says. "You see the news and it's frightening. We just want to make sure that we're doing everything possible to keep everyone healthy. Cleanliness is really the key to it. Washing your hands. Wash, wash, wash."

Among other steps employers can take to reduce the spread of the flu on the job: holding meetings via conference calls, staggering shifts so that fewer people are on the job at the same time, and avoiding handshaking.

Newspaper editor Rob Blackwell says he had taken only two sick days in the last two years before coming down with the flu and then pneumonia in the past two weeks. He missed several days the first week of January and has been working from home the past week.

"I kept trying to push myself to get back to work because, generally speaking, when I'm sick I just push through it," says Blackwell, the Washington bureau chief for the daily trade paper American Banker.

Connecticut is the only state that requires some businesses to pay employees when they are out sick. Cities such as San Francisco and Washington have similar laws.

Challenger and others say attitudes are changing, and many companies are rethinking their sick policies to avoid officewide outbreaks of the flu and other infectious diseases.

"I think companies are waking up to the fact right now that you might get a little bit of gain from a person coming into work sick, but especially when you have an epidemic, if 10 or 20 people then get sick, in fact you've lost productivity," Challenger says.

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Associated Press writers Mike Stobbe in Atlanta, Eileen A.J. Connelly in New York, Paul Wiseman in Washington, Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines, Iowa, and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.