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H1N1 Flu (aka swine flu) and the Independent Contractor

In May of 2006 I wrote a blog entry about "the pandemic and the independent contractor". Back in 2006 we were talking about SARS, today it is H1N1, or Swine flu ... both events are cause for a little planning!

The blog entry talks about such considerations as being prepared for a period of time without income; checking on insurance coverages and other related topics. These are typically the sort of situations that an individual might not give much though to, whereas larger companies are making plans in the event that a pandemic does hit.

Currently there are about 5,000 cases of Swine flu reported around the world, with about 60 deaths most of which are in Mexico. Associated press provide regular updates and this one was current as of mid afternoon today.

Did you know ...

If you develop symptoms you may be asked to go home for 7 to 10 days?
If someone that you come into contact with is diagnosed with it, you will be asked to quarantine yourself for 7 to 10 days.
Large companies are ready to implement plans that would see many of their staff working from home.
There is plenty of information about this subject online ... such as the centre for disease control website.

So ... as an independent contractor maybe you want to develop your own plan in the case you become quarantined.

1. Do you have a setup that would allow you to work from home? Internet access, phone access, a computer capable of doing the work etc.
2. Can you identify work that could be done from home for a week or so?
3. Can you clarify how you would get paid? How would work/timesheets be approved? How would your agency pay you etc?
4. What is your responsibility in the workplace? Do you have any financial responsibility if you bring the flu into the client's workplace? Should you be providing masks/disinfectant hand wash etc to prevent any contamination?

At this point the flu has not spread to the extent that was at first feared, but complacency and bad luck could still conspire to spread this virus far and wide. The implications to the economy are severe (just ask the Mexican tourist industry) so we must all take our responsibilities seriously with this situation.

Think about it, gather data and have a plan! Hopefully that will have the same effect as when I carry an umbrella ... it doesn't rain!