WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released a preparedness guide to assist small businesses in planning for the H1N1 flu.

“Small business owners should take the time to create a plan, talk with their employees, and make sure they are prepared for flu season,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “For countless small businesses, having even one or two employees out for a few days has the potential to negatively impact operations and their bottom line. A thoughtful plan will help keep employees and their families healthy, as well as protect small businesses and local economies.”

The SBA said that outbreaks of H1N1 flu are occurring now around the country and will likely coincide with the return of seasonal flu this fall and winter. The preparedness guide is said to offer small business employers tools and information to help them plan for and respond flexibly to varying levels of severity of an H1N1 outbreak - which may lead to increased absenteeism, and, if the outbreak becomes more severe, may include restricted service capabilities and supply chain disruptions. Additional preparations may be necessary if a more serious outbreak evolves during the fall and winter.

Employers are encouraged to put strategies in place now to protect their employees and their businesses in advance of the fall flu season. Included in the preparedness guide are tips on how to write a continuity of operations plan, steps for keeping employees healthy, frequently asked questions about the H1N1 flu, and a list of additional resources that employers can access online.

For more information and to view the preparedness guide, visit www.flu.gov.

Publication date:10/12/2009