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Swine flu: A quarter of employers not fully prepared for changes to sickness self-certification

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More than a quarter of payroll staff are ill-prepared to cope with government contingency plans to change the sickness self-certification period for staff during the swine flu pandemic.

Last month the Government announced plans to allow staff infected with swine flu to take 14 days off work, without a doctor's certificate. But according to the Institute of Payroll professionals (IPP), less than three quarters of organisations (73%) are prepared to cope with the changes.

The IPP finds more than a third (36%) of organisations are not covered by pandemics by their insurance policy.

Employers fear their staff will use the extended self-certification period to "pull sickies" and take extra time off work. But Lindsay Melvin, CEO of the IPP, said communication to employees will be crucial to manage the changes: "For those businesses unprepared it is vital they assess their current contingency plans and have a communication strategy in place for keeping their workforce updated on the rapidly changing pandemic situation."

She said: "It is also important they check with their payroll software provider to ensure the software will allow the processing of a greater self-certification period."