A human influenza pandemic may occur in the future. In the event of pandemic influenza, businesses will play a key role in protecting employees’ health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society. The United States Government has created the following guide to help U.S. businesses with overseas operations prepare and implement pandemic business continuity. This is a list of suggestions and can serve as a starting point for developing a comprehensive plan. The checklist highlights actions applicable to businesses of all sizes, although each item does not necessarily apply to every overseas business. For further information and resources, see www.pandemicflu.gov.
1.1 Plan for maintaining business continuity during and after a pandemic
Select a pandemic coordinator at every international facility to oversee local planning and implementation processes, threat assessment and related financial considerations, and coordinate with headquarters. Ensure local pandemic coordinator is in communication with the organization’s overall pandemic coordinator on an ongoing basis.
Establish pandemic planning and implementation team(s) at every international facility, including chain of command, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and authorities. Establish lines of communication and authority within the overall organization.
Understand national and local governments’ policies and the potential impact they may have on your business operations and emergency plans.
Analyze the capability of national and local governments to provide assistance to your company and employees.
Prepare for the possibility/impact of a currency devaluation on your business operations during a pandemic.
Identify circumstances under which business may be forced to close or reduce levels of service.
Identify essential employees and other critical inputs (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products and logistics) required to maintain critical business operations by location and function during a pandemic.
Identify potential pandemic effects on supply chain and shipments, particularly if the organization uses “just-in-time” delivery.
Work with suppliers and clients to ensure all pandemic plans work together to maintain business continuity in the event of transportation or distribution disruptions in accordance with priorities and critical needs.
Identify and develop plan to augment the current workforce capability (e.g., engaging temporary workers, contractors and retirees, and/or cross-training the existing workforce) with special attention to redundant staffing of critical business operations.
Identify business functions that could be outsourced or transferred to other facilities within the organization in the event of high employee absenteeism.
Review business insurance policies to determine what coverage may be necessary to mitigate the country-specific risks and effects of a pandemic.
Test plans through regular exercises and revise plans on a periodic basis.
1.2 Plan for the impact of a pandemic on the lives and welfare of your employees
Understand local and national health policies and plans regarding possible quarantines, border closures, airport closures, school closures, and transportation closures.
Forecast and allow for employee absences during a pandemic due to factors such as personal illness, mental health needs, family member illness, community containment measures and quarantines, school and/or business closures, and public transportation closures.
Ensure staffing plans have sufficient redundancy to allow for anticipated absenteeism, and cross-train employees to fill essential vacancies that might occur.
Review and analyze labor laws that determine your obligations to personnel.
Identify employees with special health or other needs and incorporate the requirements of such persons into your preparedness plan.
Encourage annual seasonal influenza vaccination for appropriate employees using local public health guidelines.
Assess availability of medical advice, healthcare, prescription medications, mental health services, social services, and other support services (e.g., alternate transportation, meals, grief counseling) for employees during a pandemic. If needed, consider supplementing local resources with organizational ones.
Review business health insurance policies to determine what coverage may be necessary to mitigate the country-specific risks and effects of a pandemic, and assess whether changes are needed in employee health coverage.
Assess potential availability of pandemic vaccine in host country, determine its reliability, and plan for its distribution during a pandemic.
Evaluate need for antiviral medications and plan for access, storage, dispensing by medical personnel, and distribution consistent with local laws and regulations.
Determine if in-country medical services and/or medications will be available for employees during a pandemic, and consider planning for early evacuation and/or repositioning, if needed once a pandemic begins.
Remind employees that normal supply lines may be slowed or inoperable for an extended period of time and to make personal preparations for pandemic for up to 12 weeks (e.g., stockpiling food, water, and prescription drugs).
1.3 Establish policies and guidelines to be implemented during a pandemic to avoid creating policies “on demand” in the midst of a pandemic
Establish triggers and set up procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan.
Establish a security plan that includes personnel, asset, and infrastructure protection. Prepare for the possibility of social/security breakdown.
Align business policies with national and local labor laws.
Develop and create guidelines for the possible downsizing and evacuation of expatriate employees and families. Guidelines should identify multiple evacuation locations.
Develop policies for restricting travel (domestic and international) to affected areas and guidance for employees or visitors returning from affected areas.
Develop options for conducting safer customer contacts in the event of pandemic.
Develop guidelines to prevent influenza spread at worksite, including facility cleaning and disinfection and social distancing methods to modify frequency and type of contact (e.g., reducing hand-shaking, limiting face–to–face meetings and shared workstations, promoting telecommuting, liberal leave policies, etc.).
Develop guidelines to inform and address needs of employees whose jobs will not allow telework (e.g., production or assembly-line workers).
Establish and clearly communicate policies on sick leave, family leave, and employee compensation. Advise employees who are ill with influenza during a pandemic to stay home from work.
Develop or expand guidelines for conducting business online with customers and suppliers, allowing self-service when possible.
Provide policies and training for employees in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary.
Determine the need and arrange for appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) based on WHO and CDC recommendations and provide necessary training.
Develop culturally and linguistically appropriate educational guidelines on modes of influenza transmission, signs and symptoms of infection, basic infection control procedures (e.g., good hand hygiene and cough etiquette) (www.pandemicflu.gov/professional/business/index.html), contingency plans, and travel awareness.
Establish policies for alternate or flexible worksite (e.g., videoconferencing and telecommuting) and work hours.
1.4 Determine resources required to fulfill actions in your pandemic plan
Maintain a contact list of current suppliers and develop an alternate list of suppliers for critical supplies and essential resources and services.
Maintain sufficient and accessible, infection control supplies (e.g., hand-hygiene products, tissues, receptacles for their disposal, surgical masks, and thermometers) at all business locations based on WHO and CDC recommendations.
Ensure availability of medical consultations and advice for emergency response.
Enhance communications and information technology infrastructure as needed to support telecommuting and remote employee and customer access.
Work with local law enforcement and security firms to develop security plans to protect operations, facilities, etc.