Case for Paid Sick Leave: Why It's Necessary

Ill Young Woman Blowing NoseToday’s post is from
Earlier this year, President Obama proposed legislation that would give workers seven days a year of paid sick leave. And a desperate need for paid sick leave exists — 39 percent of workers today are currently going without, according to The Washington Post. What’s even more disturbing is that the U.S. is the only wealthy nation that does not mandate the provision of paid sick leave to employees. As a result, employees throughout the nation have to either report to work in spite of the doctor’s orders or settle for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Ironically, employers’s attempts at cutting costs by refusing to provide paid sick leave is actually costing them money. Here’s why:

1. Germs, Germs and More Germs

When sick employees are forced to show up to work, chances are their performance won’t be up to par. Not only will they be less productive, but others in the workplace are placed at risk of getting sick, thanks to the surplus of germs in the air, on the doorknobs and across office fixtures. This means that these companies could have more sick employees coming to work and continuing the cycle or they could have a lot of employees calling in sick at the same time.
In fact, The Centers for Disease Control estimates that companies incur approximately $10.4 billion in expenses for outpatient visits and hospitalizations during flu season, according to SurePayroll. And for employers who don’t offer health insurance coverage, imagine the hit to productivity they are forced to absorb each time an employee succumbs to an illness.

2. Work-Life Balance

Mental and physical health are equally important in terms of employee well-being. As discussed earlier, employees who are physically ill pose a risk to others in the organization by way of germs. By contrast, those suffering a mental illness can also impact a company’s bottom line if they become overwhelmed and subsequently decrease their productivity or quit unexpectedly.

3. Debilitating Illnesses

What if paid sick leave could save someone’s life? ThinkProgress shares the story of Felix Trinidad who eventually succumbed to stomach cancer after being forced to work 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Not only is this a tragedy for Trinidad’s family and friends, but also imagine the fear and blow to employee morale among his co-workers.
Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon for workers in service sector jobs. In Trinidad’s case, paid sick days may have saved his life, notes his wife Anastacia Gonzalez. It also could have minimized the worry among his peers and eliminated the costs associated with hiring and training his replacement.

4. Attracting Top Talent

Companies should not expect well-qualified candidates to eagerly pursue employment at an organization if paid sick leave isn’t part of the benefits package. The recruiting process is a two-way street and interviewees also ask questions of the company they are looking to be employed by. So, if you want qualified and loyal workers, you may need to consider what you are offering them besides a paycheck.
Bottom line: Employees shouldn’t have to choose between their well-being and their job.

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