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Swine flu absence set to cost business 8.6 billion

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Swine flu could cost UK business 8.6 billion through staff absence.

According to absence management company FirstCare, employees infected with the swine flu virus take an average of 4.3 days off work. And with managers forced to released staff to care for ill relatives or children, the costs are adding up for employers.

Last week 177,000 staff took time off with swine flu symptoms compared with 80,000 the week before.

Aaron Ross, chief executive of FirstCare, said: "Employees with swine flu are only taking, on average, 4.3 days off work but the requirement to care for dependants and being forced to stay away from the office after coming in direct contact with confirmed cases is resulting in the average absence length increasing to, in some cases, over 8 days - almost double the usual absence rate of a UK employee.

"Over the past seven days we have seen the number of absences related to cough, cold and flu-like symptoms triple to one in every 200 employees. While these numbers may not seem too large at the moment, if the infection rate continues along the aggressive growth curve we saw last week, it could result as many as one in five workers being affected by early August.
 
"Most organisations have some form of business continuity plan in place. However, they are generally designed to tackle single, short-lived events; with swine flu we are going to see a long period of significant absence. The recent rise in cough, colds and flu and the infection rates should ring alarm bells for employers."