Paid Sick Days Should Be a Right, Not a 'Benefit'

We're all sicker when ill people have to work
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2013 12:58 PM CST

(Newser) – Shamus Khan at Time offers this cheery little reminder amid the flu season: If you go out to eat or to grab a cup of coffee, most of the employees serving you don't get paid sick days. Which means they're probably going to show up even if they're ill, and maybe pass along whatever they've got to you. But instead of blaming them, blame the Labor Department, which still considers paid sick days to be a "benefit" rather than a right.

"This is not just inhumane but a matter of public health," writes Khan. The situation applies to about 40% of US workers. A handful of states buck the trend, but most don't because they think it will hurt small businesses. The opposite is true, writes Khan, who argues that the minimal cost is outweighed by gains in productivity. "Perhaps the greatest impact we could have in fighting the flu this season is supporting the right for workers to be absent when they’re not well." Read Khan's full column here. (Read more sick leave stories.)

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