Should employers offer free flu jabs?While employers may feel offering to provide members of their workforce a free flu jab this winter could help to boost absence management, in reality their good intentions may backfire, it has been claimed.

Terrence Schwab, of law firm Tarlow, Breed, Hart and Rodgers, said that while on the surface such plans may appear considerate, asking a member of staff if they have already had a flu inoculation could be a violation of privacy laws.

Furthermore, all employees would have to sign a consent form before receiving the treatment, while offering incentives such as a free lunch or half a day off should be taken with care as it could lead to employees who do not have the injection complaining of discrimination.

Furthermore, he advised that such feelings of exclusion may lead to a drop in morale.

While the flu season is fast approaching, another health condition causing problems for absence management is stress.

Jenny Edwards, director of the International Stress Management Association, recently advised HR workers to ensure they are approachable and are aware that the workforce may be experiencing problems with stress.