The Association of Professional Staffing Companies has surveyed its member firms on the recent swine flu pandemic and have found that IT contractors are reluctant to take time off work, even if they are suspected to have the virus. This could potentially cause others in the workforce to become infected with the H1N1 virus. APSCo have attributed this reluctance on behalf of contractors and freelance workers to the current recession as they only get paid for the hours they actually work. Many contractors feel that they cannot afford to take time off due to illness. However, this issue could worsen later this year if the expected second wave of swine flu hits.

Marilyn Davidson, APSCo’s director, said: “In past years seasonal flu hasn’t been much of a problem and is considered an occupational hazard for contractors. This year though, the recession has exacerbated cashflow problems for contractors and there are compelling reasons for them to try and stay at work.”

The APSCo survey revealed that contractors who refuse to go home when sick are likely to cause “animosity” within their place of work. APSCo are recommending a pro-active approach, advising employers to ensure that their sickness policies were up to date and that “contractual terms are revised at the earliest opportunity.”

APSCo commented further: “Significant problems can arise of a sickness policy is ambiguous and a contractor with suspected swine flu stays on-site. This is something that is increasingly likely during the recession as contractors do not get sickness pay, so will be looking to maximise their income.”

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