Public health experts say company sick-time policies may be helping H1N1 (swine) flu spread more easily.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 39% of workers don’t have paid sick time. Result: People who can’t afford to receive smaller paychecks go to work sick. Then they spread their illness — including flu — to their co-workers.
“Providing workers with paid sick days is essential if we’re going to get serious about the public health recommendations for swine flu — stay home until 24 hours after your fever is broken,” said George Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Staying home until a fever is broken may take up to five days.
According to The New York Times, workers at some retailers and restaurants say their employers’ policies discourage them from calling in sick.
Wal-Mart issues employees a demerit point when they miss a day of work. If employees get four demerits in six months, they begin receiving warnings that can lead to dismissal.
Fast food chain White Castle says its policy is that when an employee is ill, they are allowed — and required — to stay home until they’re well. However, White Castle doesn’t provide paid time off. A company VP says workers don’t have to lose pay because they can make up the missed time by working more hours after they’re well.
Supporters of a bill in Congress that would mandate companies with 15 or more workers to provide seven paid sick days a year are using the H1N1 pandemic to push their cause.
Business groups oppose the measure, saying it’s expensive and unnecessary.
Does the U.S. need to mandate paid sick time for workers? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.