Mercer Addresses Global Avian Flu Concern

February 28, 2006 ( - Mercer Human Resource Consulting has launched a global initiative to provide companies with planning information and advice addressing the challenges of a potential global avian flu pandemic.

Mercer’s announcement said its pandemic preparedness program addresses the key HR issues of crisis leadership, employee communications, skills inventory of critical business functions, and the review of HR policies such as employee insurance coverage, travel restrictions and evacuations, sick leave, working remotely, and preventive health measures. The program can be accessed via Mercer’s Web site .

Planning tools that can be accessed from the Web site include:

  • A Mercer white paper, “The Emerging Global Pandemic: Human Resource Implications,”
  • Mercer’s online survey to determine their organization’s level of preparedness and planning priorities from an employee perspective,
  • Papers on reviewing employee benefits and employee communications,
  • Current news reports on avian flu and its consequences for humans, and
  • Useful information and links to other sites, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“An avian flu pandemic could be exponentially tougher for businesses than SARS since it spreads through migratory bird populations and, in the worse-case scenario, could mutate into a strain that will allow for people to easily infect others,” said Rosaline Chow Koo, head of Mercer’s Health and Benefits business for Asia Pacific, in the announcement. “Once this happens, employee absenteeism will be a major problem with people staying home either because they’re sick, taking care of the sick, or reluctant to leave their homes for fear of becoming ill. This will create significant disruptions to essential services, so proactive planning will be critical not only by governments, but also by the business community to protect the health and well-being of employees.”