One of the biggest arguments in favor of paid sick leave is that sick employees should not come to work. When someone who is ill stays at home, the chances of that illness being shared at work diminishes. Plus, workers recover faster from illness when they have the time to rest or seek medical attention.
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that nearly two-thirds of servers and cooks say they have served or cooked while ill. This increases the likelihood that illnesses will be spread to customers, causing potential public health issues.
Many workers choose to come to work ill because they fear they will lose pay or their job if they stay home to recover. Some also call in sick to stay with a sick child who cannot stay home alone.
While some employees do come to work when they are ill, it can lead to what is known as “presenteeism,” which means employees are not working up to their potential.
According to the United States Department of Labor, workers without paid sick time are more likely than their counterparts with paid sick time to be injured on the job, especially those employed in health care support occupations, construction and production.
Paid sick leave is thought to build loyalty and reduce turnover, which is particularly important in the lower wage industries where turnover is highest. Replacing workers can be expensive. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, it costs about 38 percent of an employee’s annual earnings to replace them, including recruitment, training, the separation process and losses in productivity.
There also are concerns about how the lack of paid leave affects health care costs. Many emergency centers report that workers without paid sick leave are more than twice as likely to seek emergency room care because they can’t take time off during normal work hours. So am I in favor of making paid sick leave mandatory? Hell yes I am.