Two thirds of the FTSE 500-listed businesses have reported ‘swine flu absenteeism’ since the pandemic hit, according to law firm Eversheds.

The survey of more than 420 businesses across the UK revealed that 72% have already had staff take time off as a result of swine flu, 38% of businesses believe they would lose revenue as a result of the illness, and 21% indicated they expected to close or part close premises.

The research also revealed that 41% of businesses do not have a contingency plan in place – although 75% said they were aiming to be in this position. 53% said they did not expect to implement these plans within the next seven weeks.

Martin Warren, head of employment law at Eversheds, said: ‘All organisations should have a contingency plan in place which addresses the risk of swine flu and tackles business continuity issues should the virus take hold. At a tactical level, this may include the redeployment of staff, hiring additional agency labour, increasing stand-by cover for key operational roles and the temporary shutdown of infected workplaces.’

To date, 87% of employers affected by swine flu have introduced new sanitation measures.

Warren said: ‘Our research shows the majority of organisations are already feeling the impact of swine flu. Given the current economic situation, organisations are already under pressure, but minimising possible business interruption due to the pandemic must be a focus. Businesses need to recognise this and adopt the appropriate contingency measures.’