person resting from flu under blankets

Flu and Your Workplace

Flu can be a big disruption for business. Employees who are sick may need to take time off to recover and may not be as productive when it comes to getting work done. In addition, symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and fever can spread germs to healthy employees.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering a cough and frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Tips for Fighting Flu

Everyday preventive actions that can help prevent flu and the spread of germs in the workplace include:

  1. Cover Your Mouth and Nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through the coughing, sneezing, or talking of someone with the flu.

  1. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth

Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.

  1. Clean Your Hands

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

  1. Stay Home When Sick

Employees should be encouraged to stay home from work when they are sick to help prevent others from getting ill. If there is only one employee who performs a particular task, consider training others so that coverage is available should that employee need to leave work early or stay home due to illness.

  1. Practice Good Health Habits

Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Resources and Printable Materials for Promoting Good Health Habits

To help businesses, employers, and their employees learn about strategies for preventing flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following toolkit, flyers, posters, and other materials:

This podcast provides information about recommended strategies to help businesses and employers promote the 2012–2013 seasonal flu vaccine.

Learn what two strategies are recommended to businesses and employers this flu season.

Host a flu vaccine clinic in the workplace and use this flyer–complete with fillable text boxes so you can add the location, date, and time of your flu vaccine clinic.

Encourage employees to get vaccinated at locations in the community. Navigate to the Flu Vaccine Finder website to find locations offering flu vaccine and then update the flyer and post.

Share this flyer with employees to encourage flu vaccination. Consider posting this in the workplace, or copy and place in mailboxes or include in pay statements or newsletters.

Use this flyer with other workplace managers to kick off discussions about flu vaccination planning.

Promote flu vaccination using web technology:

Post on business windows and restroom mirrors.

man sitting at desk stressed reading papers

Job Conditions That May Lead to Stress

The following conditions have been listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which may cause stress at the workplace.

The Design of Tasks

  • Heavy workload;
  • Infrequent rest breaks;
  • long work hours and shift-work; and
  • Hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.

Management Style

  • Lack of participation by workers in decision- making;
  • Poor communication in the organization; and
  • Lack of family-friendly policies.

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.

Work Roles

  • Conflicting or uncertain job expectations;
  • Too much responsibility; and
  • Too many “hats to wear.”

Career Concerns

  • Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; and
  • Rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.

Environmental Conditions

  • Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions, such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.
A close up of a packet of birth control pills

Federal Agencies Relax Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

New Rules Expand Exemptions Based on Religious and Moral Objections

Effective as of October 6, 2017, two companion interim final rules issued by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor expand exemptions related to the Affordable Care Act requirement that non-grandfathered group health plans provide coverage without cost-sharing for contraceptive services (referred to as the “contraceptive mandate”). Previously, the contraceptive mandate was subject to exemptions for religious employers and accommodations for certain other non-profit religious organizations and closely held for-profit entities with sincerely held religious beliefs against certain contraceptives.

Expanded Exemptions

The new rules exempt entities that object to establishing, maintaining, providing, offering, or arranging (as applicable) coverage, payments, or a plan that provides coverage or payments for some or all contraceptive services based on their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. For this purpose, the term “contraceptive services” includes contraceptive or sterilization items, procedures, or services, or related patient education or counseling.

  • Religious Exemption. This exemption applies to non-governmental plan sponsors—including non-profit organizations and for-profit entities (whether or not they are closely held or publicly traded)—that object based on sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • Moral Exemption. This exemption includes the plans of plan sponsors that are non-profit entities, as well as for-profit entities that have no publicly traded ownership interests (as defined under the law).

Disclosure Requirements

Exempt entities will not be required to comply with a self-certification process. However, where an exemption applies and all or a subset of contraceptive services are omitted from a plan’s coverage, otherwise applicable ERISA disclosures must reflect the omission of coverage in ERISA plans.

For more information on the interim final rules, please click here.

rain drops on glass

Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Announced for Hurricane-Impacted Individuals

Special Enrollment Periods Available for 2017 Marketplace Coverage

As a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make available special enrollment periods for certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange). In general, these special enrollment periods are available to residents of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.

Special Enrollment Period Details

The special enrollment periods created by CMS will allow individuals impacted by the storms to select a new 2017 Marketplace plan or make changes to their existing 2017 plan at any time through December 31, 2017. Specifically, there will be special enrollment periods for individuals who:

  • Experienced a special enrollment period qualifying event between 60 days prior to the start date of the incident designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and December 31, 2017, but were unable to complete the application, plan selection, and enrollment process due to a hurricane-related weather event in 2017; or
  • Reside in or move from areas affected by a hurricane in 2017.

These special enrollment opportunities are in addition to the annual open enrollment period this fall and any other enrollment period for which the individual may be eligible.

Additional details on these special enrollment periods can be found here.

Get in the Know About Sports Drinks and Energy Bars

Exercising is great for your body, but it is important to take care of yourself during and after your workout. You can do this is by staying hydrated and maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Sports Drinks

When you’re exercising, your body quickly absorbs blood sugars for energy. You also lose electrolytes, or minerals such as sodium and potassium, when you sweat. A good way to replenish your blood sugars and electrolytes is to drink sports drinks.

Most sports drinks offer a blend of sugars such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, and galactose. A few may also add maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate made of several glucose units. Some research suggests that sports drinks offering a carbohydrate blend may improve the number of carbohydrates that eventually get to your muscles as fuel. Different sugars are absorbed in different ways, so the rate of carbohydrate absorption is improved by providing several different sugars.

Sports drinks also come with added electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Sodium, the electrolyte lost in the greatest amount, helps maintain fluid balance in the body and improves hydration.

Energy Bars

With so many varieties available, selecting the right energy bar is anything but simple. To choose the best one for you, read the label. High-carbohydrate bars provide carbohydrate fueling both before and during a long workout. These bars typically provide about 70 percent of their calories from carbohydrates as sugars.

How quickly carbohydrates get into the circulation is referred to as the glycemic index. Eating a high glycemic index bar means a rapid release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, giving the muscles a quick “shot” of fuel, which is ideal during a workout. Eating a low glycemic index bar results in a slower release of sugar into the circulation and sustained energy, which is best before exercise.

Keep in mind that many energy bars, particularly high-carbohydrate bars, are intended for people who spend an hour or more doing aerobic exercise like biking or running. The best way you can replenish your blood sugars, whether you’re exercising or not, is by eating a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

 

This brochure is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.

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