Is Every Worker About To Get Paid Sick Days?

Did you know that nearly half of all Americans who work in the private sector (including more than 75% of low-wage workers) do not get a single paid sick day? I sure didn’t…while I figured that the number was pretty high I did not imagine that a full half of the working population doesn’t get sick days! A recent article mentioned that this is about to change:

“Now the federal government and lawmakers in 14 states are proposing legislation that would require employers to provide paid sick days. While polls show that Americans strongly support the idea, businesses are concerned about the cost. “Employers have finite resources,” says Lisa Horn of the Society for Human Resource Management. “A paid-leave mandate would likely force employers to make up the cost by reducing wages or health-care coverage.””

However, as much as companies will complain about their bottom line, I fully believe that their bottom line is harmed more by employees who come to work sick. They can make other employees sick, they are not as productive as healthy employees, and a company providing at least a few sick days is more likely to retain employees as it is seen as a valuable benefit. Most of the companies I worked for here in Los Angeles (mostly movie studios) did not even have official sick day policies…we were told in orientation to just not take advantage and they would not count our sick days. And sure enough, people for the most part did not take advantage of the lack of policy, as they felt like the company was putting some trust and faith in them as people. For every person that might possibly take advantage of any sick day policy, there are bound to be at least 20 that wouldn’t…and who would appreciate the fact that if they were sick they could stay home and still get paid for it. I am a big believer in treating people like adults and making them a valued and important part of any company, and providing a few paid sick days is part of that belief. If the guys at the top get paid days off, then so should the guys at the bottom; it’s just common decency. You have to trust and support your employees if you want them to return the favor.

Photo by ghindo

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Comments (10)

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  1. john says:

    my employer gives a lot of sick days. it’s nice for honest people. however, a lot of people abuse it as most people are sick on mondays and fridays…how convenient.

  2. “They can make other employees sick, they are not as productive as healthy employees, and a company providing at least a few sick days is more likely to retain employees as it is seen as a valuable benefit.”

    What gets me is when you have a generous sick leave policy, but people STILL come in to work sick. It’s like its a merit badge or something. “I have a viral plague, but I’m going to selfishly drag my ass into work so people will see how much more dedicated I am than everyone else.” Then half the office gets sick. Thanks, jerk.

  3. Eli says:

    Wow. I’m getting rather tired of being called a ‘resource’ by analysts.

  4. Brian says:

    People tend to abuse sick days…
    One study found that 40% of sick days were taken on Mondays and Fridays!

  5. I’m guessing that Brian was joking about sick days being abused because 40% of sick days were taken on Mondays and Fridays. That would mean 60% of sick days are used Tuesday through Thursday.

  6. mobody says:

    I work human resources and there are two kinds of folks, those that accrue sick time, and the earners and burners. I work govt so we are very generous with sick time. 15 days a year, 40% cashout after 10 years if you leave. But since a lot of our employees are older and have been here for several years, they do have more health issues and whatnot and it is a good thing that the sick time is there. I have worked places where two people call off and it shuts down the department. But if you have sick days planned into your labor model, its not such a bad hit when someone calls off.

    The truth is, there will always be people who abuse the system, but I really get tired of people who resent people for taking time off that they earn. I had one company president complain that he hated paying for holidays like memorial day and labor day because it was unfair that the govt made him pay people not to work for him. This out of the mouth of a guy who had 16 weeks of paid vacation every year. Yet the same people will complain that they can’t find or keep good workers. If you treat people like they are a tool and not like they are a human being, they will act accordingly.

  7. […] Two Dollars:  Is Every Worker About To Get Paid Sick Days?  My spouse does not, but does get three personal days that could be sick […]

  8. Jennifer B. says:

    My workplace doesn’t give sick days… instead, if we’re sick (or have weather issues– my workplace was one of the only places in town open during the first days of our horrendous December icestorm, with computers hooked up to generators) we get to take vacation days for the time. Of course, this means that if you’re sick with anything less than the bubonic plague you come to work and infect your coworkers so that everyone can be miserable together. “It’s only an 103 degree fever… surely I can make it through the day!” Of course, that results in all the productivity of a rock for me AND all the people who catch what I have… which is definitely not good for the company in the end. I’d be in favor of mandatory sick days anytime!

  9. jim says:

    Hi – I work in a different country to the US and we get a minimum 5 days per year – guaranteed in law. Also, my employer gives us up to 8 days per year family leave, for use when the kids are sick. This makes our lives so much easier and a lot less stressful, as having a few days off in winter to recover from a cold means our earnings are not hit.

    Also, if the person next to me is sick, I don’t want them anywhere near me. I make any of my employees who are ill go home and recover for a day or two. If you come to work sick you are not very productive anyway and all that will end up happening is the rest of the workforce gets ill to.

  10. Jima says:

    This is a sad fact of the American work force. I work for a major hospitality chain. My employer does provide sick days or better yet PTO-Pesonal Time Off( you can use these hours for sick days and vacation), the hours are accumulated based on the number of hours you work in a quarter for the company. Some of my fellow employees have anywhere up to 200 hours of pto. When business is slow, maybe 30 hrs a week vs the busy season which can be 60 hrs a week, we can add those hours to our checks to supplement the lack of hours as long as it does not put us in over time
    My only concern about supplementing the checks is that our employer does not advertise and frowns upon us filing for partial unemployment. Because they have to pay some of it. So some people are forced to use those days. (The fact is when we work those busy weeks, we should put extra money aside) Partial unemployment in the state of Tn can only be issued when you have worked a consecutive 3 weeks with less than 20 hours. And after you file, it may be month before you get a check, some people do not receive a check at all.
    Also if someone is fired or quits our company, they are issued the pto hours in full.
    But finding out that half the people who work in the private sector do not have sick days, and I’m imagining very few of them have health insurance is an issue. It makes me thankful for the benefits offered by my employer.
    My employers may not be all that bad.
    With that said. People still come to work sick, with all the sick time in the world, and spread their germs to the rest of us. The mentality of myself and the people I work with could be that of a workaholic.
    So I see the reverse, people are not taking advantage of their sick days enough.