- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
When flu empties an office: Businesses struggling with absent, or ill, employees
Nearly half the 70 employees at a Ford dealership in Clarksville, Ind., have been out sick at some point in the past month. It didn’t have to be that way, according to the boss.
“If people had stayed home in the first place, a lot of times that spread wouldn’t have happened,” said Marty Book, a vice president at Carriage Ford. “But people really want to get out and do their jobs, and sometimes that’s a detriment.”
The flu season that has struck early and hard across the U.S. is putting businesses and employees alike in a bind. In this shaky economy, many Americans are reluctant to call in sick, something that can backfire for their employers.
Flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The only states without widespread flu were California, Mississippi and Hawaii. And the main strain of the virus circulating tends to make people sicker than usual.
“The people here are working longer hours, and it puts a lot of strain on everyone,” Mr. Fleetwood said. “You don’t know whether to ask people with the flu to come in or not.” He said the flu is also taking its toll on business as customers cancel their travel plans: “People are getting the flu and they’re reduced to a shriveling little mess and don’t feel like going anywhere.”
Other employees report for work out of financial necessity, since roughly 40 percent of U.S. workers don’t get paid if they are out sick. Some simply have a strong work ethic and feel obligated to show up.
Flu season typically costs employers $10.4 billion for hospitalization and doctor’s office visits, according to the CDC.
That does not include the costs of lost productivity from absences.
At Carriage Ford, Mr. Book said the company plans to make flu shots mandatory for all employees.
Linda Doyle, CEO of the Northcrest Community retirement home in Ames, Iowa, said the company took that step this year for its 120 employees, providing the shots at no cost. It is also supplying face masks for all staff.
And no one is expected to come into work if sick, she said.
So far, the company hasn’t seen an outbreak of flu cases.
“You keep your fingers crossed and hope it continues this way,” Ms. Doyle said. “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.”
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- Why Malaysia Airlines jet might have disappeared?
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again