Thursday, 3 September 2009

Bosses taking swine flu swabs from employees

Can someone help me get my head around why some firms are considering taking swabs of their employees who phone in saying they have 'suspected swine flu'? Just what does it achieve?

Bosses are being quoted as saying it will stop people skiving when they are not really sick and, less convincingly, that it will help the employee and his family by letting him know for sure whether he does indeed have swine flu.

OK, so a person phones in sick because they have a high temperature, flu-like symptoms. His GP says "don't come and see me" phone the swine flu helpline. The helpline says to him to stay at home and take Tamiflu and only get in touch again if he gets much worse.

The boss then spends £125 and a staff members' time/petrol etc to drive to the employee's house and take a swab. This is sent for analysis. If it comes back negative then the employee says "Oh well, it's just ordinary flu. I'll stay in bed for a week until it wears off."

If the swab comes back positive, the employee rings the NHS helpline again and says "I've definitely got swine flu". They repeat their previous instruction: take Tamiflu and stay at home until you get better. After a week he's better and goes back to work.

So what on earth is the point of an employer taking swabs? If someone wants to skive off work for a week sick, they just phone in with 'ordinary flu' or 'back ache'.

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