UK businesses bracing for flu season

17 September 2018 . United Kingdom

The number of UK businesses looking to protect their employees from the flu is on the rise as employers help to safeguard the health of their workforce.

  • Businesses providing employee flu jabs up over a third (36%)
  • Increase in demand for on-site clinics so employees can be vaccinated at work
  • Bupa UK Medical Director Dr Petra Simic explains importance of vaccinations and ways to prevent virus spreading in the workplace
Woman outside in winter

Last year, flu infections in the UK reached the highest levels in seven years, and minor illnesses such as the flu accounted for over a quarter (26.2%) of working days lost through sickness absence, adding up to over 34 million days.

Bupa saw a 36% rise in the number of businesses providing employees with flu jabs compared to the previous year. Many businesses put plans in place as early as September, with a 20% year-on-year increase in that month alone.

Businesses are already requesting Bupa flu jab vouchers to give to their employees or would like assistance through an on-site clinic so employees can be vaccinated during their working day. This on-site service was established over a decade ago and has proved increasingly popular with businesses and employees.

Dr Petra Simic, Medical Director, Bupa Health Clinics, said: “It’s good that businesses are taking steps to help their employees prepare for the flu season. The spread of flu is inevitable and it has the potential to spread quickly within an office. Bupa is encouraging employers to be proactive when it comes to protecting the health of their employees this winter.

“Flu is one of the most common reasons for someone to take time off work, which can significantly impact productivity, but it’s easily preventable if you have the right preventative measures in place early.”

Dr Simic gives some advice on the other ways that people can prevent the flu from spreading in the workplace

Feeling unwell? Stay at home

If you are showing symptoms of flu, such as a sore throat, headache, fatigue or a fever, it’s best to keep out of contact with others and avoid going to work. Flu symptoms usually clear up within a week, so you can minimise its impact by taking the right precautions. Similarly, if a colleague is sick, encourage them to go home. Sending them home will protect you and others from becoming unwell.

Encourage healthier habits

Your immune system protects your body from infection, so keeping it in the best possible condition can help it to attack threats such as the flu. You can help your whole body, including your immune system, by adding more fruit to your diet, sleeping properly, exercising frequently and reducing stress. Encourage colleagues to eat more fruit, ensure they get out of work on time, and help to manage their workload.

Wash your hands

It’s always important to regularly wash your hands to avoid spreading germs, and it’s even more crucial around flu season. Ensure there are sanitisers dotted around the workplace so there is easy access and regular reminders to wash hands.

Cover sneezes and coughs

Covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing will minimise the spread of cold and flu viruses. Using disposable tissues and throwing them away after blowing your nose will help reduce the spread of germs.

Get the flu jab

Flu immunisation can prevent flu infection. This is particularly important if you are someone who is at risk of getting more unwell from flu, including those with conditions such as asthma, diabetes or COPD. Older people and pregnant women are particularly at risk from flu, so it’s especially important to encourage those people to have vaccinations. If you do develop flu yourself, keep your distance form vulnerable individuals to protect them.

For more information about Bupa’s flu jabs and on-site nurse team visit

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 16.7m customers and contributes around 75% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with around 15m customers. We care for around 22,300 residents in our UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain aged care businesses.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, the US, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

For more information, visit