Flu costs Australian employers $7 billion in lost productivity

by Freya Lucas

February 27, 2019

Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) employers are being encouraged to take advantage of flu vaccinations this year, with absenteeism (being absent from work due to illness) costing $7 billion each year in lost wages, and presenteeism (attending work whilst unwell) costing $34 billion in lost productivity.

 

Influenza is a major cause of both absenteeism and presenteeism during the autumn and winter months, with 48,276 cases of influenza being reported across the country in 2018.  

 

Employers have been encouraged to minimise the impact of influenza through investing in flu vaccination programs.

 

“Employers are seeing that a healthy workforce is not just a benefit to employees but can lead to greater economic return, with 47 per cent of companies now offering workplace wellness programs,” TerryWhite Chemmart Chief Executive Officer Anthony White said .

 

Pharmacist Krystel Tresillian said it was important for people to get an annual flu vaccination, as flu strains evolved constantly and were very infections.

 

“Influenza is caused by a viral infection that is easily spread from person to person,” she said.

 

“A person with the flu may be contagious a full 24 hours before symptoms begin and continue to be infectious for a week after the onset of symptoms.

 

“This can have a devastating effect on a workplace, with the virus circulating quickly between co-workers and even onwards to their families.”

 

Ms Tresillian’s comments are of particular note to the early childhood education and care sector, with a greater chance of exposure to various viruses through the nature of their role.

More information about influenza and productivity can be found here.

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