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The novel coronavirus is currently making headlines for its spread throughout China. Although the virus is not currently spreading in the US, there are steps that businesses can take to help control infection in their own workforce.

Most often, we make the case for keeping employees at work. However, in this case, keeping sick or potentially infected employees home outweighs any productivity losses businesses may incur by preventing the entire workforce from becoming ill.

The good news for employers is that they already have policies in place to combat this type of illness. The same steps that they take to deal with the common flu are also recommended by the CDC for the novel coronavirus: encouraging employees to utilize sick days and flex time when they’re not feeling well.

In the past, IBI researchers have investigated the choices employees make when ill, finding that most employees take leave when sick. However, when they go to work, it’s most often to save their leave or because they have too much work.

Encouraging these employees to work from home rather than coming to the office can prevent the spread of infection and even more employees taking time off due to illness. It’s what’s best for the health of both employees and the business.

Related Documents:

  1. CDC’s Coronavirus Guidance for Employers
  2. IBI Research: Employees' Work Responses to Episodes of Illness: Evidence From the American Time Use Survey

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