More momentum for paid sick days

June 29, 2009 | Aaron Keating

The idea is simple: Ensure every worker in America has the right to earn paid sick days on the job. Catchy, isn’t it?

MarketWatch – the online media group owned by the Wall Street Journal – recently published a great article called “Ill and on the Job” which nicely encapsulates the current policy discussion. and the Boston Globe has added its name to the list of papers endorsing paid sick days as a new work-family standard, pointing out:

Business groups oppose the bill on several counts, including the pressure that employers are already under because of the recession. But these same groups were no more supportive in past years when the economy was stronger and the sick-day bill made no headway. A paid-sick-day law now would be an investment in the health of the American people and the American economy.

The Globe’s sentiments on the business case for family leave are backed up by a new study examining countries with the same level of economic development as the United States. It finds no statistically significant relationship between national unemployment rates and legally-mandated paid sick days in countries with paid sick days standards.  The full report is available from the Center for Economic Policy Research .

Other academic research also illustrates the importance of paid leave to care for family. A recent study published in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that among parents of children with serious chronic illnesses who missed work because of their child’s illness, those who received full pay during leave reported more positive effects of leave-taking than those who received no pay.

And check out the health benefits of paid sick days in this press release from the National Partnership for Women and Families:

More than one-third of flu cases are transmitted at schools and workplaces…[and] guaranteed paid sick days would reduce the spread of pandemic and seasonal flu by enabling workers to comply with public health advice if they or their family members show signs of illness.

Infected workers staying home could reduce the spread of a pandemic flu virus by up to 34 percent, according to the study. Paid sick days will also protect the public from diseases carried by sick restaurant workers, and benefit nursing home residents, visitors and workers.

You can read a summary of the report’s findings on the National Partnership’s website.

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The new report finds that more than one-third of flu cases are transmitted at schools and workplaces, and that guaranteed paid sick days would reduce the spread of pandemic and seasonal flu by enabling workers to comply with public health advice if they or their family members show signs of illness. Infected workers staying home could reduce the spread of a pandemic flu virus by up to 34 percent, according to the study. Without preventative strategies like paid sick days, a serious flu outbreak could kill more than two million people.

Paid sick days will also protect the public from diseases carried by sick restaurant workers, more than 85 percent of whom cannot take paid time off from work when ill. From 2003 to 2007, nearly 122,000 people fell ill from foodborne disease outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 18,030 illnesses in institutional and workplace settings involved an infected food-handler, the study says.

Nursing home residents, visitors and workers would also benefit from paid sick days, which would help prevent avoidable hospitalizations and deaths. Between 30 and 45 California nursing homes would be spared norovirus outbreaks each year under a new paid sick days law, it says

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Posted in Health Care, Paid Sick Days, Work & Family

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