Flu could cost employers $17 billion this season.

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Flu season is well underway, with at least 13.2 million cases diagnosed, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report issued Feb. 2. At least 155,000 people have already been hospitalized.

While it is difficult for the CDC to predict flu severity, the staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates absences due to influenza could cost employers more than $17 billion in lost productivity this season. The company predicts 20 million workers could take four eight-hour days away from work due to the flu. Using the current employment-to-population ratio of 60.6%, and the average hourly wage of $27.48, the cost to employers could hit $17,587,200,000 over the course of the season.

To reduce that cost, workplaces nationwide should take...

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