When making contingency plans for a possible major flu pandemic (i.e., a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu), employers need to think about what impact societal changes might have on how we cope. For example, compared with society in 1918, consider today's huge number of single-parent households and two-parent households with working mothers.
Also consider: Children usually have a higher infection rate than the general population. They don't practice the level of personal hygiene that adults do. They are in close quarters with other children in school and daycare settings.
In the event of a major flu pandemic, it is VERY possible that schools will be closed - perhaps for an extended period. Many daycare centers and after-school programs possibly would close too - either by government mandate or because the business owners wish to or must (for various reasons).
Where do all of these children go - especially if there's only one parent in the household and/or the mother is engaged in work outside the home?
Will businesses who don't offer daycare services for employees suddenly decide to make some arrangement for children at their workplace? Are they able to? Are they willing to? What about staffing, facilities, equipment, potential liabilities, etc.?
Is this something businesses can pre-arrange with daycare providers - assuming those providers have enough excess capacity and remained open during a pandemic? By comparison, in continuity plans, businesses sometimes contract with outside service providers - e.g., telecommunications, IT, and real estate management firms - to immediately provide backup resources at alternate locations in the event of a disaster. Is something similar available for child care or other human resource needs during a flu pandemic?
As another approach, companies might also consider modifying their leave policies in order to give employees flexibility to care for children in such circumstances.