Absence management strategies could include home workingAbsence management strategies should include allowing staff to work from home in order to halt the spread of swine flu, it has been suggested.

The average absence rate for most firms will stand at 12 per cent, according to the PC Support Group, although this figure could be higher for smaller companies.

Furthermore, the firm asserted that absence management strategies at smaller companies may have to deal with up to half of a workforce needing to stay at home.

Concerns have been raised that the cost of the virus to the UK economy could hit £50 billion.

Managing director of the PC Support Group Phil Bird said: “Companies need to start preparing for soaring absentee rates before the peak of the virus hits the UK’s business community.”

The organisation added that employers need to take advantage of remote and mobile technology and encourage flexible working to keep employee absences down.

An Orange call centre in Plymouth has had to ask nine members of staff to stay at home after they were confirmed to have swine flu, in an effort to keep the rest of its workforce healthy, the Plymouth Herald reported.